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February 22, 2010 | by  | in Visual Arts | [ssba]

Wellington Gallery Guide

Visual arts

Wellington is hailed as the arts capital of New Zealand, hosting a range of world-class events, festivals and exhibitions. However, outside of the blockbuster events, Wellington has a vast array of galleries and artist-run spaces which host an extensive programme of beautiful, mysterious and challenging exhibitions. Showcasing works by not only some of New Zealand’s most renowned artists but also those lesser-known, incredibly talented ‘ones to watch’. The following is simply a snapshot of my favourites, a smidgen of an introduction to the diversity of Wellington’s artistic personality.

Adam Art Gallery Te Pataka Toi
Free entry

Victoria University, Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
Adam Art Gallery is one of those places that you always mean to go to but just never do, and if you do mange to go there, it’s probably because you got lost looking for the National Bank. Located on Kelburn Campus in a purpose-built building designed by Ian Athfield, the Adam offers a dynamic year-round programme of exhibitions and events, featuring a range of cross-media works by New Zealand artists.

Enjoy Public Art Gallery
Free entry

Level 1, 147 Cuba Street
While slightly hard to find, Enjoy is well worth the search. Established in 2000, Enjoy is proud to be a non-commercial artist-run gallery which supports both established and emerging artists. The small gallery space provides an intimate setting for a variety of avant-garde exhibitions. Enjoy is one of those cutesy spaces, the perfect place to impress that twee girl you’ve been eyeing in your philosophy lecture.

The New Dowse
Free entry

45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt
Situated in the Hutt, the New Dowse can be a bit of drag to get to, but trust me your bus or train fare will not be wasted. Spectacular and innovative, the New Dowse moves beyond the standard 20th century art museum, creating exhibitions that explore and celebrate creativity in art, science, technology and design. If the Dowse doesn’t rock your socks then I suggest you give up, drop out of uni and spend the rest of your day at Queensgate Mall.

Manky Chops
Free entry

Level 1, 166 Cuba Street
Wellington’s urban environment is filled with a plethora of graf-art, stencils and paste-ups. Entering Manky Chops is like walking into your very own graphic dream; this unconventional gallery provides a unique crossover from the street to the gallery. While not your typical space, Manky Chops guarantees an artistic experience unlike any other in Wellington.

City Gallery
Usually free

Civic Square
Recently renovated City Gallery is most well known for its programme of large international exhibitions. However, the gallery also offers a much smaller, less advertised programme, which personally I prefer. Keep your eye out for shows in both the Deane Gallery (contemporary Maori and Pacific art) and the Hirschfeld Gallery (contemporary local art). These intimate exhibitions are often informative and well curated.

Toi Te Papa
Free entry

Level 5, Te Papa Tongarewa
Te Papa was opened in 1998 as an amalgamation of the National Art Gallery and the Dominion Museum. Te Papa is widely criticised as having let down its obligation to New Zealand’s art history. While I tend to agree with this, I am impressed with Toi Te Papa, Te Papa’s permanent art gallery. The multi-media exhibition tracks the development of New Zealand’s art history from both its western and indigenous origins. While the majority of the works are on permanent display, some areas such as the contemporary section and works on paper (a particular favourite of mine) are changed periodically.

Tip: Keep an eye out for exhibition openings, a great chance to indulge in a bit of art wankery and take advantage of an open bar and free cheese.


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  1. georgina says:

    Love it, jeannie! Great rundown.

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