Welcome to The Suter Art Gallery – where art matters
The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū is a memorial to the second Bishop of Nelson, Andrew Burn Suter (1830-1895). Bishop Suter and his wife Amelia travelled to Nelson in 1867 to lead the Anglican diocese and they became major figures in early Nelson society. In addition to his official duties, Bishop Suter also busied himself with artistic pursuits as a recreational painter and collector of art. In 1889 he established the Bishopdale Sketching Club (now the Nelson Suter Art Society) and served as its first President and critic. He was also a friend of the painter John Gully (1819-1888) and developed a substantial collection of that artist’s work.
In 1890, the Bishop suffered a stroke which left him incapacitated for the last five years of his life. During this period he discussed his ‘long cherished wish’ to present an art gallery to the people of Nelson. Immediately after the Bishop’s death in 1895, Amelia began to realise her husband’s dream. She gifted some land, money and Bishop Suter’s art collection as the founding donation. Herself unwell, Amelia then returned to England and died barely a year after her husband.
Amelia left the building of a gallery in the hands of the founding Board of Trustees, comprising leading figures in Nelson society. In 1899 the ‘Bishop Suter Art Gallery’ designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere (1856-1952) was opened alongside the old Matthew Campbell School. In 2007 it was designated as a Category II Heritage Building.
In 2016 work was completed on a major redevelopment of The Suter. Significantly expanding the galleries spaces the project also included strengthening and protecting the original heritage building.