New Zealand is perhaps best known worldwide for its spectacular natural landscapes, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cultural wasteland! Far from it: there are plenty of notable cultural institutions throughout the country, and wherever you may find yourself, you won’t be too far away from a serious art fix if you want to find one, with many of the country’s most prominent galleries offering a mix of both New Zealand and international artists. Galleries to ensure you check out include:
Auckland Art Gallery (Auckland) Open since 1888, the largest art institution in New Zealand has a collection of over 16,000 works, including major holdings of New Zealand historic, modern and contemporary art and a strong collection of Māori and Pacific Artists.
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (New Plymouth) This innovative contemporary gallery with an international reach was dubbed “the swingiest art gallery in the antipodes” by artist Len Lye, and presents present innovative and provocative work by New Zealand and international artists.
The Sarjeant Gallery (Whanganui) Whanganui’s much loved Sarjeant holds a collection of national significance, with more than 8,000 artworks and items spanning four centuries of European and New Zealand art history, as well as the internationally renowned Denton photography collection.
Te Papa (Wellington) The Museum of New Zealand houses the national art collection, and offers an ever changing programme of exhibitions, with strengths in 20th century New Zealand painting, early 20th century British painting, international prints, British watercolours, and international and early New Zealand photography.
The Suter Art Gallery (Nelson) One of New Zealand’s oldest galleries, the Suter has a collection that spans over 200 years, including stunning ceramics, British Modernism, early New Zealand modern art and 19th century watercolours.
Christchurch Art Gallery (Christchurch, pictured top) The Christchurch Art Gallery did double duty as Civil Defence HQ after the earthquakes, but is now back to showcasing its extensive collection (even in the lifts!) of New Zealand and international artwork, and also offers a robust events programme.
Dunedin Public Art Gallery (Dunedin) The spacious Dunedin Public Art Gallery houses one of New Zealand’s premier art collections, where acclaimed New Zealand artists (including perhaps the country’s finest collection of works by Frances Hodgkins) sit alongside works by Gainsborough, Picasso, Monet, Turner, and more.
Not up to scratch on New Zealand art? It’s never too late to learn! The country has produced a number of world-acclaimed artists that are worth looking out for on your trip. Keep an eye out for works by:
• Rita Angus
• Colin McCahon
• Ralph Hotere
• Dick Frizzell
• Charles Goldie
• Frances Hodgkins
• Bill Hammond
• Charles Heaphy
• Toss Woollaston
• Bill Sutton
• Len Lye
• Neil Dawson
• Michael Parekowhai
• Grahame Sydney