An exhibition by the Royal Society of New Zealand in partnership with the New Zealand Portrait Gallery.  Curated by award winning science writer and historian Rebecca Priestley.

The Art of Science features paintings from the Royal Society of New Zealand’s fascinating private collection of portraits of prominent scientists, past and present.  It includes interpretive text telling their stories – their innovations and successes.

As well, it captures the connections between artists and scientists, and between science and art, looking at the different ways that scientists and artists appreciate colour and light.

The exhibition marks the first time that this significant collection of portraits of New Zealand scientists has been gathered into an exhibition and shown to the public.

The exhibition opened in Wellington, 31 March – 22 May 2011 at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Wellington.  See Wellingtonian Article

National Tour dates

Puke Ariki, New Plymouth:  24 March – 27 May 2012              

Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne:  8 August – 16 September 2012                    

Nelson Provincial Museum:  Nov 2012 – Jan 2013                                             

Southland Museum:  20 Feb – 21 April 2013


The Portraits

The Art of Science includes works by New Zealand’s leading contemporary portrait painters such as Marianne Muggeridge, Irene Ferguson and Stephen Martyn Welch, as well as many portraits commissioned in the 1970s and 1980s by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s president Sir Charles Fleming.

Scientists in the collection include Alan MacDiarmid, James Hector, Paul Callaghan,  Charles Fleming, Ernest Marsden and Maurice Wilkins.

DNA portrait
The exhibition features a DNA portrait, and is one of the first times that a DNA portrait has been shown in New Zealand. It was created by Canadian company DNA-11 using a DNA sample from Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.

This exhibition is a partnership between the New Zealand Portrait Gallery and the Royal Society of New Zealand, and is proudly sponsored by Resene Paints.