Meet the rugby-loving lockdown guardian of Auckland Art Gallery's multi-million-dollar collection

When the Auckland Art Gallery had to shut its doors because of the Covid-19 pandemic months ago, one thing its director had to think about was safety.

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The gallery’s art and taonga were put to bed two days before New Zealand shut up shop. Source: Seven Sharp

"When you close an art museum for a period of time in a lockdown you really need to make sure that the artworks are safe,” gallery director Kirsten Paisley said.

She said this meant having to cover the multi-million dollar collection to prevent too much dust getting on it. It’s part of the gallery's Disaster Management Plan, and the pandemic marks only the second time in their 130 years they've used the plan. The first was during the Sky City fire last year.

It also meant some work for security guard Peter Alexander.

His colleagues have been the custodians of culture throughout the lockdown - Night at the Museum style.

Mr Alexander said this meant keeping an eye on CCTV and patrolling the building.

He said the gallery had been "so eerie and quiet" over lockdown.

But, when the Auckland Art Gallery re-opens on June 13, Mr Alexander expects people to come back in droves.

"I really can't wait to talk to the customers when they come in.” he said.

In the meantime, the big Blues fan is instead talking to the paintings on the wall.

"The Blues were ahead, and time was almost up. They ran a length of the field, 100-metre try. Went to the corner, dotted it down,” he told one painting.

“I definitely love art and it's certainly something I enjoy looking at,” Mr Alexander added.

"Being part of the team that looks after that made me feel quite special I suppose."

Get a look behind the scenes of the Auckland Art Gallery in the video above.