The new Art Gallery was opened in 2003 and is a great addition to Christchurch. It has wonderful curving glass facades and spectacular outdoor sculpture. The Gallery has one of the largest permanent collections in New Zealand.
The collection totals over 5,500 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and crafts emphasizes local work. There are regular touring international and national shows as well so there's plenty to see. Entry to the permanent stuff is free with a small charge for the shows (when they are on). The Gallery is open daily 10am-5pm (Wed till 9pm) but closed most public holidays.
The book and gift shop is very good also. It has some excellent New Zealand-made goods as does the in-house craft gallery. The cafe is also not too bad & worth a look when you are in need of a sit down & Latte.
Next door is the Centre of Contemporary Art which is also worth a visit for its exhibitions of New Zealand contemporary art.
Christchurch Art Gallery -Te Puna o Waiwhetu - is a stunning new building on Worcester Avenue, Its curves and swoops of glass and steel coming as quite a surprise in this city of Vistorian Gothic public buildings. The collection inside is worthy, but not all that inspired, concentrating as it does mostly on New Zealand artists, local Canterbury artists in particular, but that's the reality of art galleries in small cities where the public purse is not big and there is no tradition of wealthy patrons who compete to adorn the city. It's almost as if the gallery and the collection are two seperate identities and after the pizzazz of the building itself, what's inside is just a bit dull. However, it's worth a brief visit to the permanent collection if only to gain another perspective on New Zealand other than outdoor activities and thrills, and there may well be a special exhibition that takes your fancy.
Entrance is free to the the main gallery - special exhibitions attract an entrance charge. The shop has a good stock of art books, prints and posters and, again, you might like to take home an artist's image of the fantastic landscapes of New Zealand to remind you of your time here.
Already the building of the Christchurch Art Gallery (which was only opened in 2003) is a piece of art of its own. There are steady discussions about how to attract more visitors into the South Island's largest art institution, as they dream of being internationally famous and New Zealand's finest art museum. Maybe many people are so fascinated by the building itself that they forget to go inside and have a look at the art inside, or get stuck in the nice café/restaurant with its splendid views.
I find the the transparent skin of the two-storey Art Gallery fascinating. When you are inside and look towards the Arts Centre and Hagley Park you find the buidlings and trees framed by the frames of the glass construction, like a kind of city art.
You get quite a nice overview of New Zealand painters, of whom I admire Frances Hodgkins a lot.
There are also constantly changing exhibitions of paintings, photography and installations, you know, like 9 glasses of red wine slowly evaporating on mini-shelves... So everything from the art that is generally acknowledged to the very modern outbursts not many people understand - and therefore something for everyone.
Floortalks, films, performances and lectures complete the programme. They really try to make the Art Gallery a lively place for the whole community.
Open daily 10am-5pm, on Wednesdays until 10pm. Entry free, but fees can occur occasionally for special events.
Christchurch Art Gallery or Te Puna o Waiwhetu is located in the heart of the City's cultural precinct bounded by Worcester Boulevard, Gloucester and Montreal Streets.
The Art Gallery was opened on 10 May 2003. We were attracted by the beautiful architecture which features a flowing glass and metal sculpture wall. The building was designed by The Buchan Group and has three levels. The outdoor area is a Sculpture Garden, incorporating trees, water features and recreational spaces.
Admission is free of charge.
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