Wellington's best museums and art galleries
The cultural capital is home to some of New Zealand's leading museums and galleries. No matter what your interests are, you'll have a great time exploring Wellington and learning more
The Dowse Art Museum
45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt
The Dowse Art Museum is a leading contemporary art gallery in Lower Hutt with an international reputation for its high-quality visitor experiences. Entry is free to their regularly changing exhibition programme featuring contemporary visual art, fashion, jewellery, multi-media and ceramics. The Dowse has a dedicated children’s space providing colouring supplies, a puppet show and books, and on-site licensed café Bell Bird is a lovely place for coffee and lunch.
Pātaka Art + Museum
17 Parumoana Street, Porirua, Wellington
A short drive or train trip from the city, Pātaka Art + Museum is a lively hub of arts and culture in Porirua, one of the most multi-cultural cities in New Zealand. Across multiple galleries, Pātaka shows the best in contemporary Maori, Pacific Island, New Zealand and international art. Enjoy lunch and coffee at Kaizen, a café overlooking a traditional Japanese garden, and spend some time at the museum shop, Toi Store, which has a carefully chosen range of art and craft works made by leading New Zealand artists.
Petone Settlers Museum
The Esplanade, Petone, Lower Hutt
Situated on the Petone shore of Wellington Harbour, the Petone Settlers Museum tells the stories of the people who have made Petone their home. The museum has a series of small exhibitions which focus on different historical and cultural aspects of settlement in the area. The museum occupies one of New Zealand’s most significant memorial buildings, which was built to commemorate the arrival of the first British immigrants in 1840. Before becoming a museum, it served as a bathing pavilion for Petone beach-goers.
Expressions Whirinaki Arts and Entertainment Centre
836 Fergusson Drive, Upper Hutt, Wellington
Expressions Whirinaki Arts and Entertainment Centre is a vibrant arts centre where you can enjoy, art, culture, history and entertainment. With a regularly changing programme of exhibitions ranging from the very best New Zealand and international art, to local arts and craft and historical exhibitions, Expressions Whirinaki has a special focus on interactive experiences and family friendly activities. The centre is a 30-minute drive from Wellington or an easy bus or train ride.
Southward Car Museum
Southward Car Museum Otaihanga Rd, Otaihanga, Paraparaumu
Southward Car Museum is the most comprehensive privately-owned collection of veteran and vintage cars in the Southern Hemisphere. Car enthusiasts are in for a treat when they see the collection that includes Marlene Dietrich's Rolls Royce, a 1915 Stutz Racer, gull-winged Mercedes Benz, the Chicago Gangster's armour-plated limo. Sir Len and Lady Southward, the founders of the museum, began collecting cars in 1956 with the purchase of Model T Ford for 40 pounds which is on pride of place display in the museum.
40 Salamanca Road, Kelburn, Wellington
Discover the stories of our southern skies at Space Place. The full-dome planetarium offers a state of the art, digital experience that will take you on a virtual space journey from Wellington, through our Solar System and beyond. Explore the multi-media interactive exhibitions and travel through Space Place’s very own black hole, touch a space rock and launch a rocket. On fair weather late nights (Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) you’ll get the opportunity to take a peep at the night sky through the historic Thomas Cooke telescope.
New Zealand Portrait Gallery
Shed 11 60 Lady Elizabeth Lane, Pipitea, Wellington
From the celebrated to the seldom seen, at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery you’ll find portraits of poets and prime ministers, visionaries and villains, actors and activists and many in between. The gallery is housed in a historic converted shed on Wellington waterfront and is a significant visual archive that records New Zealand’s changing social environment. New Zealand Portrait Gallery has a regularly changing exhibition programme and entry to the gallery is free of charge.