A new experience every visit at The Dowse Art Museum

Enjoy contemporary art and culture and be challenged with insight, imagination and intelligence at this free public art gallery

'The Future of Work' exhibition at The Dowse 2019


Lower Hutt


45 Laings Road


Wheelchair available; guide and hearing dogs welcome

You never know exactly what you’re going to see each time you visit The Dowse Art Museum. It could be an exhibition of contemporary jewellery or ceramics, an interactive virtual reality experience, a display of Māori whakairo (carving) or raranga (weaving), or a show of photography or paintings by emerging and leading New Zealand artists.

But no matter what is on when you visit, you can be sure that you’ll walk away feeling inspired, challenged and reinvigorated by what you’ve seen and discovered.

Nikau Hindin - Kokorangi ki Kokowai detail at The Dowse 2020 Photo by Shaun Matthews 1
The Dowse Ronnie van Hout Fallen Robot sculpture children
Guy Ngan 'Habitation' install at The Dowse 2019
Fiona Amundsen and Tim Corballis 'Human Hand' installation at The Dowse

The Dowse is known for their exhibitions, public programmes and spaces that are accessible to people of all ages. Like Fallen Robot, a giant robot sculpture by leading New Zealand artist Ronnie van Hout in The Dowse Square; while children will delight in climbing over the sculpture, adults can ponder the meaning of a fallen industrial giant and its relationship to the Hutt Valley’s industrial history.

The Dowse, as it’s known, was opened in 1971, and began building its art collection with a focus on studio craft, including ceramics, textiles and weaving which was unusual for art galleries at this time. The museum now has one of the largest collections of this kind in New Zealand with over 3,500 objects.

Throughout its history, The Dowse has pushed boundaries both through what they display and collect and the way the museum connects to the outside world. Solar panels on the roof harvest the Hutt Valley sunshine and the temperature inside the building is moderated by clever design, with baskets of Wairarapa river stones underneath the building that hold in the heat or cold.

An interesting visit every single time and staff who go out of their way to be friendly and helpful.

A visitor to The Dowse

As you approach The Dowse, you’ll notice the striking perforated aluminium screens on the façade of the building. A happy hybrid of art, engineering and sustainability, these moveable panels help to regulate the temperature of the building and were designed by Wellington artist Simon Morris in conjunction with Athfield Architects and Fraser Engineering.

No visit to a museum is complete without a visit to the gift shop, and The Dowse has an excellent one. Well designed and well stocked with local and New Zealand-made ceramics, jewellery, books and design, it’s a great place to find a gift. Likewise, the museum’s onsite café, Bellbird Eatery, a modern café with an emphasis on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, is a superb place for a coffee or lunch with a glass of local craft beer or wine.

With entry that’s free to everybody, The Dowse is a much-loved fixture of the Hutt Valley and a must-visit for anyone looking to reset and recharge or just see something cool, interesting and beautiful that will make you think.

Bellbird Eatery flowers table counter
The Dowse Art Museum store
The Dowse Art Museum exterior Rainscreen artwork

You might like

Be in the KNOW

Subscribe to get fortnightly updates on what’s fresh, new and happening in Wellington

You may unsubscribe in the footer of all emails from WellingtonNZ. For more info, read our enews terms