New Zealand artists and their works are receiving increasing recognition on the international stage.
Galleries around New Zealand hold exhibitions that feature the works of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, as well as fresh, new talent.
Historical artworks are mostly held in the collections of the larger museums and public libraries in the main cities.
There are also more than 460 museums around the country, many doubling as art galleries, ranging from specialist regional and private collections to the impressive national museum Te Papa Tongarewa (Our Place) in Wellington.
New Zealand art galleries
Auckland Art Gallery - Toi o Tamaki
Wellesley / Kitchener Streets, Auckland
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki occupies one of Auckland's iconic buildings - a blend of heritage and contemporary architecture that is home to the largest permanent collection of New Zealand art. The impressive entrance is supported by majestic kauri columns that open to four floors of exhibitions covering seven centuries of art. Originally opened in 1888, the Auckland Art Gallery was New Zealand’s first permanent art gallery.
Gow Langsford Gallery
Kitchener / Wellesley Streets, Auckland
Opposite the Auckland Art Gallery, the Gow Langsford Gallery exhibits both contemporary New Zealand paintings and sculpture, as well as international works.
Lopdell House Gallery
Titirangi / South Titirangi Roads, Waitakere City, Auckland
The Lopdell House Gallery, about 35mins from central Auckland, is a public art gallery that presents annually about 10 exhibitions of contemporary New Zealand art. The gallery also profiles local artists who are of national significance, and is situated in the scenic Waitakere Ranges.
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre
Queen Street, New Plymouth
The unmissable Govett-Brewster Art Gallery & Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth has reopened to international acclaim. On the outside it's an architectural statement in mirrored stainless steel whilst inside it houses impressive permanent collections of New Zealand contemporary art, including the definitive collection of kinetic sculptor and pioneering filmmaker, Len Lye. First opened in 1970, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s leading contemporary art gallery.
National Library Gallery
Molesworth / Aitken Streets, Thorndon, Wellington
Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa / the National Library of New Zealand is located opposite New Zealand's Parliament Buildings, and is one of the country’s leading cultural and information centres. As well as library material, there are public exhibitions of heritage collections. Murals and works of art from the library’s contemporary art collection are also on show.
Wellington City Gallery
Civic Square, Wellington
Wellington's City Gallery - in the central Civic Precinct - has forged a reputation for challenging and innovative exhibitions of art, architecture and design, presenting significant New Zealand artists alongside major international figures. It received a major renovation in 2009.
Dowse Art Museum
35 Laings Road, Lower Hutt
The Dowse Art Museum holds more than 20 exhibitions a year covering New Zealand and overseas crafts. Six separate gallery spaces, including a large museum wing, cater for a diverse array of exhibition content - ceramics, glass, textiles, wood, metal and furniture, photography and paintings.
National WOW Museum & Classic Car Collection
1 Cadillac Way, Nelson
Nelson's National WOW Museum attracts more than 40,000 annual visitors. The Museum houses two collections representing innovation in design; the WOW Galleries and the Nelson Classic Car Collection. Each year, around 50 World of WearableArt competition finalists go into the permanent exhibition and the museum is the best place to truly appreciate the incredible construction and detailing that goes into these wearable artworks.
Grove Mill Winery
Waihopai Valley Rd, Marlborough
The Grove Mill Winery art gallery is set in magnificent scenery adjacent to a natural wetlands, home to southern bell frogs, pukekos and shags.
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Wai Whetu
Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch
The Christchurch Art Gallery – a landmark in the central city – is a contemporary architectural statement with an undulating glass and metal facade. It is the largest art institution in the South Island and home to one of New Zealand’s most important public art collections (6400 artworks). It served as the city’s emergency hub following the earthquakes and has been through an intensive programme of seismic strengthening turning it into one of the safest and most earthquake-resilient galleries in the world.
The exterior is lit with a major neon work by renowned English artist Martin Creed. Installed to mark the 2015 reopening, Creed's EIGTBA, 2015 stands for 'Everything Is Going To Be Alright'. The 46-metre long,1468mm high, neon work is positioned on the Worcester Street Boulevard facade of the building perimeter.
The Arts Centre
301 Montreal Street, Christchurch
Christchurch's much loved Arts Centre has been the subject of a major restoration programme, progressively re-opening since 2016. This new era is an opportunity to tailor the unique heritage environment so it meets the needs of the Canterbury community, businesses and tourists. The result is a vibrant hub of creative industries, with studio and exhibition spaces, arts education and performance spaces, complemented by retail and hospitality.
Dunedin Public Art Gallery
30 The Octagon, Dunedin
Dunedin Public Art Gallery was founded in 1884 by William Mathew Hodgkins - cultural activist, artist, and father of famous New Zealand painter Frances Hodgkins. It houses an important collection of New Zealand works from 1860 until modern day, including works by Frances Hodgkins. The gallery also has significant holdings of historical European art, Japanese prints, and decorative arts.
New Zealand museums
Te Papa Tongarewa - Musuem of New Zealand
Cable Street, Wellington
New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, opened in 1998 on Wellington's waterfront. The museum, a celebration of New Zealand’s identity - the people, culture and environment, features hi-tech and traditional displays. As well as significant collections of New Zealand art, the 16,000-plus taonga / treasures looked after by Te Papa are the largest Māori collection in any museum and cover a broad spectrum of Māori art and culture, from revered and significant cultural heirlooms through to humble everyday items dating from early pre-European times to today. In 2017, the museum was named as one of the top 25 museums in the world by TripAdvisor - the only museum in Australasia to be included.
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Auckland Domain, Auckland
Auckland Museum is one of New Zealand’s best-known historic buildings. The war memorial reflects on New Zealand’s part in the wars of the world, while the museum provides a window on cultural and natural history including a fine collection of Māori treasures and Polynesian artefacts.
Museum of Waitangi - Te Kōngahu
Tau Henare Drive, Paihia
The Museum of Waitangi – formally named Te Kōngahu – sits on the historic site recognised as the birthplace of the nation of New Zealand. The museum is a modern and comprehensive showcase of the role of the Treaty of Waitangi in the past, present and future of New Zealand. The museum building houses a permanent exhibition Ko Waitangi Tenei: This is Waitangi which explores the stories of Waitangi and features many valuable and significant historic pieces previously scattered through museums and private collections throughout the country and overseas.
Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)
Great North Road, Western Springs, Auckland
MOTAT - Museum of Transport and Technology - opened in 1964, and is the largest museum of transport, technology and social history in New Zealand. It houses a number of outstanding collections.
New Zealand National Maritime Museum
Cnr Quay & Hobson Streets, Viaduct Harbour, Auckland
The National Maritime Museum celebrates New Zealand’s seafaring history from the voyaging traditions of the Pacific peoples to early European arrivals and modern ocean racing. In Māori, the museum name is Te Huiteananui-a-Tangaroa, the legendary house belonging to Tangaroa, Māori god of the sea.
Galleries tell the story of peoples whose lives were forever linked to the sea. Along the way, try your hand at yacht design, relax in a Kiwi style bach, hear the cannon fire and test your sea legs in the rocking cabin. Plus, don’t miss the opportunity to get out on the water aboard one of the museum’s fully restored heritage fleet. Take a one hour sailing experience on Ted Ashby, a ketch rigged scow, which sails six days a week.
Rotorua Museum of Art and History (see note)
Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa
Rotorua Museum occupies a distinctive Tudor style building on the shores of Lake Rotorua. The original bathhouse building, first opened in 1908, houses many significant Māori taonga / treasures that are of national and international historical significance. It also holds a fine arts collection and a photographic collection containing more than 70,000 photographic images depicting Rotorua's past.
NOTE: While the museum building is currently closed for major works, visitors can participate in free twice-daily 'Outside the Walls Walking Tours' in Government Gardens. The tours share stories about Rotorua’s unique environment, the people of the past and visit the historic Bath House building.
Nigel Ogle's Tawhiti Museum
401 Ohangai Road, Hawera
Tawhiti Museum is the incredible story of one man's love of old things, social history and artistic talent. For three decades, Nigel Ogle has been recreating Taranaki regional history in the form of highly detailed delicate dioramas and full scale representations of the lives of the Maori and Europeans who peopled New Zealand. The former dairy company factory and warehouses have been filled with uncounted multitudes of models (each hand created by Ogle) and a multitude of stories to tell including a bush railway ride and the underground Traders & Whalers exhibit which is Ogle's own waterborne version of Disney's 'It's a Small World'.
Taupo District Museum of Art & History
Story Place, Taupo
Three art galleries house the Taupo Museum's art collection and changing art exhibitions. For the dedicated angler, the main exhibition hall displays permanent small exhibitions on trout fishing and Lake Taupo charter boats. There is an Early Settlers exhibition, and the Nga Taonga Maori room houses carvings and Maori artefacts. The grounds include a recreation of New Zealand's Chelsea Flower Show (2004) award-winning "100% Pure New Zealand Ora - garden of wellbeing".
Hawke's Bay Museum
Herschell Street / Marine Parade, Napier
A combined museum and art gallery, the Hawke's Bay Museum has a broad collection with a special emphasis on Hawke's Bay history, especially the 1931 earthquake, as well as historical and contemporary art.
Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch
Canterbury Museum is a major New Zealand regional museum that holds almost two million collection items. The collections cover a wide range of topics including Canterbury’s first people, the moa hunter Māori and their descendants, the European settlers' cultural and economic development and local history. Highlights include the newest exhibition "Quake City" which opened in February 2013, and the Mountfort Gallery of European Decorative Arts and Costume. The Museum is adjacent to the Botanic Gardens, and not far from Cathedral Square.
419 Great King Street, Dunedin
Otago Museum contains comprehensive displays of Māori and Pacific heritage, especially Southern Māori culture. There is an excellent New Zealand natural history collection - from penguins to the extinct giant moa, fish, birds and insects.
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum
1 Queens Gardens, Dunedin
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum tells the story of the people of Dunedin and the surrounding area, whose character, culture, technology, art, fashion and transport shaped New Zealand’s first great city. Its fourteen themed galleries feature interactive displays and powerful narratives tracing the human history of the area, from the earliest settlers to the most recent arrivals.
Southland Museum and Art Gallery
Queens Park, 108 Gala Street, Invercargill
Southland Museum and Art Gallery is located in the largest pyramid building in the southern hemisphere.The museum has one of the largest living collections of tuatara in its highly successful breeding facility.