New Plymouth art galleries, museums and events
New Plymouth is well-known for its creative side. The Govett Brewster is one of New Zealand's leading contemporary art galleries. The adjoining Len Lye Centre is a go-to destination for experimental film and kinetic art. Nearby, the award-winning Puke Ariki library and museum provide a great way to learn more about the region. And in the heart of New Plymouth is one of New Zealand's premier botanical gardens. The Pukekura Park is described as the jewel in New Plymouth's crown and host thousands of visitors every year.
Govett Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre New Plymouth
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery opened in February 1970. It was established by New Plymouth woman Monica Brewster (née Govett). Since then, it has leaped to the forefront of New Zealand's contemporary art scene where it remains. The Govett-Brewster applies a visionary exhibition and collection policy. It has acquired a bold collection of artwork from New Zealand, the Pacific Rim and beyond. You can experience innovative and provocative work by the world's leading contemporary artists.
Adjoining the Govett Brewster Gallery is the Len Lye Centre. It's distinctive for its eye-stopping mirror-like façade. Born in New Zealand in 1901, Len Lye is arguably one of the twentieth century's most original artists. He became internationally renowned as a kinetic sculptor, film artist, painter and poet. When he died in New York in 1980, he bequeathed his entire personal collection to the people of New Zealand. Part of the Len Lye collection can be found at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery. In the gallery, you can find his non-film work which is under the supervision of the Len Lye Foundation.
The architecturally stunning Len Lye Centre opened in 2015. It was built as an extension to the Govett Brewster to display works from the Len Lye collection. The centre is clad in curtain-like curves of stainless steel that reflect the energy and 'zizz' of Len Lye's work. To no surprise, it has become a celebrated New Plymouth landmark. Much like Len Lye's famous Wind Wand which is installed on the CBD waterfront.
The centre curates changing exhibitions from the Len Lye collection. People from around New Zealand and the world come to New Plymouth to enjoy the works of this pioneering modernist. Dedicated to 'composing motion', a lot of Len's work involves larger kinetic works. You'll also see exhibitions from other mind-stretching contemporary artists. These include one of Billy Apple's 'further alterations'. A visit to the Len Lye Centre is a refreshing, thought-provoking and inspiring experience.
Clad in curtain-like curves of stainless steel that reflect the energy and 'zizz' of Len Lye's work.
Puke Ariki, the New Plymouth museum and library
Puke Ariki is a combined library, museum and i-Site visitor information centre. It's a great place to learn more about New Plymouth and Taranaki before exploring the region. Admission is free and there's plenty here to interest people of all ages. There's even a well-stocked store for unique gifts and souvenirs.
The Puke Ariki museum combines history with modern technology. It provides an interactive programme of exhibitions and events that change every few months. The more permanent exhibitions include a celebration of New Plymouth artists. The Taranaki Life exhibition will introduce you to the lives of local people from the past to the present. Nature lovers will enjoy the Taranaki Naturally exhibition. The exhibition focuses on the region's beautiful landscapes and native species.
If you're visiting with children, be sure to pick up one of the entertaining scavenger hunts. The hunts are designed for children of all ages. You can also cross the enclosed air bridge to the library, which includes Discover It. This is a popular section for children and teenagers. If you need a replenishment, the library has a comfortable café. Here you can relax and read magazines with a coffee and a bite to eat.
The award-winning Arborio restaurant, café and bar sitls alongside Puke Ariki. It serves delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes in a modern setting. Sit outside on the enclosed terrace which looks out to the sea and enjoy a good view.
Puke Ariki also offers bookable guided historic walks around parts of the CBD. Lasting around two hours, they're an easy stroll full of stories. You will learn about the struggles and triumphs of early European settlers.
TSB Festival of Lights, New Plymouth
This festival is another highlight of the New Plymouth events calendar. From December to February, the beautiful Pukekura Park becomes a wonderland of light and colour. The park includes botanic gardens, native trees and forests. You can take the walking tracks around the large lake which has a fountain and to the waterfall. There are also children's playgrounds, a fernery, display houses and several historic bridges. During the festival, a series of lighting installations completely transform the natural environment. From 8:30pm to 11pm every night it's a magical place to be.
The TSB Festival of Lights is free and provides family-friendly events during both the day and night. The live entertainment features local and international musicians, performers and roving entertainers.