Museums in New Zealand

New Zealand Museums and Galleries

With such a rich cultural heritage and fascinating history, it is no surprise that there are many opportunities for visitors in New Zealand to gain a more rounded understanding of the past, present and future of this intriguing land. Museums are found easily in every town and city, some with a broad selection of exhibits, others with a more specific focus on one theme. Similarly, the many art galleries give an insight into the cultural makeup of New Zealand from the angle of contemporary and historical art pieces.

Auckland contains an array of museums. One of the largest, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, has permanent displays throughout the year exploring Maori culture, Australasian ethnology, local and foreign archeology, natural history, the history of New Zealand settlement and the country’s involvement in 20th Century wars with a large commemorative war memorial. The museum has an important research and conservation capacity and often houses touring collections from abroad.

The National Maritime Museum in Auckland offers a fascinating glimpse into the New Zealand’s rich sea-faring history, with exhibitions and a fleet of heritage vessels in the waters of Hobson Wharf. The importance of the sea to the historical development of New Zealand is also highlighted in Auckland’s Royal Navy Museum, which has free entry to all visitors.

The Auckland Art Gallery is the largest art institution in New Zealand, with an impressive collection of both local and international contemporary and historical art. Auckland also has a diverse range of smaller galleries that allow emerging artists to display their works and experiment with post-modern techniques and subjects. The Satellite Gallery, the Gus Fisher Gallery, the Milford Galleries, Artspace and the John Leech Gallery are just some worth visiting for a unique artistic encounter.

As the artistic and cultural capital of New Zealand, Wellington has many impressive galleries and museums to visit. The Museum of Wellington Sea and City is a fascinating and interactive walk through the history and cultural development of the city of Wellington. Similarly the large Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa Tongarewa focuses on strengthening the cultural identity of New Zealand through innovative presentation and preservation of various national artifacts.

A trip up to the top of the botanical gardens in Wellington’s famous cable car allows visitors to access the Wellington Cable Car Museum as well as spectacular views over the city. For a similarly enjoyable trip back in time, the Colonial Cottage Museum is located in the oldest identified building in central Wellington. Visitors can stroll through a fully furnished replica of a 19th Century home. For a historical glimpse into the sporting past of New Zealand, why not spend a day at the New Zealand Cricket Museum – a must-see for any sport or cricket fan. Those who are interested in the history and behind-the-scenes development of the New Zealand moving image history should drop into the National Film Archive, with an extensive collection of feature films, television programmes, documentaries, short films, home videos, news clips and film and television commercials.

The City Gallery Wellington has been undergoing extensive renovations and is due to re-open on the 27th of September 2009. The $4 million two-storey addition to the gallery will greatly enhance the already impressive collection of innovative local and touring international works. If the gallery happens to be closed during your time in New Zealand, there are many more fascinating and innovative galleries to visit such as the Enjoy Public Art Gallery, the Gilberd Marriott Gallery, the Hamish McKay Gallery, the Emerge Gallery and the Mark Hutchins Gallery.

The beautiful heart of Christchurch is home to the Canterbury Museum, The Christchurch Arts Centre and the Christchurch Gallery. A stroll through the inner city is a perfect way to explore these impressive institutions, as well as appreciate the beauty of the Botanical Gardens and Cathedral Square. The artistic pulse of the city extends to many boutique galleries such as the Arthouse and the Centre of Contemporary Art. For a different pace, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand will entertain both children and adults with its vast collection of military aircraft.