Primary and Intermediate School Programme

All primary and intermediate school programmes are led by gallery educators and take place in the gallery spaces, with hands-on activities in the Learning Centre when time allows. The descriptions below indicate what you can expect from each session; each programme can be customised for your class age group and area of focus – simply chat with our team today.
06 759 0858 

Term 3 & 4 - Primary and Intermediate

Come face to face with art as your students have a creativity upgrade. The learning available from contemporary art and that of Len Lye reaches across the curriculum. Gallery education programmes immerse students in art. They come away knowing how to participate, becoming thoughtful gallery viewers with transferable skills and knowledge.

Make the gallery your classroom this term, with several new exhibitions to learn from.

Visit Len Lye: Happy Moments to discover the importance of science, innovation and creativity in Len Lye’s kinetic sculptures and movies.

Learn how art and maths combine in Kureitanga II IV and Surface Affect: Michael Zavros, Amanda Gruenwald, Jeena Shin and Ralph Hotere: Black Paintings 1 – 7.

Or find out the imaginative ways contemporary Māori artists combine old and new ideas using paint.


Balancing shapes

Visual Art/Science: Physical world/Technology
5 Aug – 3 Dec
Y 1 – 4, 75 mins


Focus on the shapes, sounds, movements and materials seen in Len Lye’s sculptures. Bounce and sway, boing and tinkle, reflect and bend. We practise Te Reo as we invent moves inspired by the artworks. In the Learning Centre students apply science ideas from the physical world to create a mobile showing energy and movement.

This lesson links to Puke Ariki’s 'Creativity and innovation' exhibition, plan now for a rotation between the museum and art gallery.

At school collect ideas and images of things on the move then sort into natural or man-made and use science words to say how they move. How to show movement with static text? Students experiment with arranging and rhyming words inspired by Len Lye’s sculptures.


Mobile maquette

Visual Art/Science: Physical world/Technology
5 Aug – 3 Dec
Y 5 – 8, 90 mins


How did Len Lye use science and innovation to make his art? We learn about Len Lye’s ‘number 8 wire’ approach to problem solving, including any artist’s first problem – how to get a good idea? We discuss the importance of innovation and creativity in wider society. Students use problem solving skills to create a standing sculpture that is a model for an outdoor public sculpture.

This lesson has strong links to Puke Ariki’s 'Creativity and innovation' exhibition, plan now for a rotation between the museum and art gallery.

At school students draw their maquette as a large outdoor sculpture in a real site. Mind map problems and solutions to their sculpture’s outdoor transformation. Write a poem describing the movements and sounds of Len Lye’s sculptures or student’s own maquette when imagined full size. Then dance your poem.

Ngā toi, now and then

Visual Art/Ngā Toi/Te Reo Māori
22 Sep – 26 Nov
Y 4 – 8, 90 mins


How do artists use ancient stories to help them create new art with new meanings? Using a model whare toi to house our learning, we connect Ralph Hotere’s Black Paintings 1 – 7 to the Māori creation myth and find out how abstract art can tell stories. Students practise Te Reo for colours of the rainbow and in groups experiment with shape and composition. Focus on how Kureitanga II IV tells of the preciousness of water and then create a layered old/new artwork inspired by tukutuku. This lesson links well to Puke Ariki’s 'Toi whakairo rākau' lesson, plan now for a rotation between the museum and art gallery.

At school students transform their layered artwork into an abstract inky painting.  Use geometric ideas from tukutuku to create a group mural design. Weave a pattern with paper, plastic or harakeke. Experiment with pastel on recycled plastic creating hieke (rain capes) that express a caring for water message. Learn Te Reo to talk about the weather.

Painting revealed

Visual Art
23 Sep – 3 Dec
Y 1 – 6, 90 mins


Pools of colour, walls of geometric pattern and hyper realism; we compare and contrast the three distinctive painting styles seen in the Surface Affect exhibition. Students discover some painting tricks – how the colour wheel works, the use of geometry, the mystery of realism. In the Learning Centre students construct surprising artworks by folding and painting card into 3D forms. The artworks hide a shadowy trace of their own hand holding a precious object within.

At school students try out different ways of applying a variety of paints. Collect, compare and contrast different types of painting – say what their favourite type is and why. Learn about the science of colour and light.

Go geometric

Visual Art/Maths/Te Reo Māori
23 Sep – 3 Dec
Y 4 – 8, 90 mins


What are the processes and ideas behind geometric paintings? Discover the answer in the Surface Affect exhibition and the large wall painting Kureitanga II IV. Play a composition game to analyse shapes and their reflection, translation, rotation and repetition. Ralph Hotere’s Black Paintings 1 – 7 transports us into the Māori creation story where we practise Te Reo for colours of the rainbow. In the Learning Centre focus on tukutuku patterns and the geometry in the world around us. In groups, students experiment with folding, stencilling and masking to create a geometric recycled plastic panel to hang at school.

This lesson has great links to Puke Ariki’s “Toi whakairo rākau” lesson, plan now for a rotation between the museum and art gallery.

At school students practise geometry language and use it to describe raranga, tukuktuku and kowhaiwhai. Capture patterns in nature – irregular and regular shapes, positive and negative.

Mural with a message

Visual Art/Ngā toi/Te Reo
Y5 – 8, 90 mins


Planning a mural for your school? Meet a gallery educator in Huatoki Plaza to collect mural ideas and gain an understanding of the problems in designing and painting one. Walk together up to the Len Lye Centre to visit Kureitanga II IV and gather ideas on how artists can communicate using abstract art techniques. We also practice some Te Reo linked to ngā toi and states of water. In the Learning Centre student groups create designs with an environmental or community message. Students collage their designs onto a school wall photo to plan their mural.

Teachers, prior to your visit please email a photo of a recognisable empty school wall to

At school upload the Kureitanga II IV resource and view artist WharehokaSmith’s online interview

Exploring Len Lye

Visual Art/Dance
All year levels, 60 mins +


What can we learn from Len Lye? Introduce your students to the wonders of Len Lye’s art and the acclaimed architecture of the Len Lye Centre. Experience the multi-sensory exhibitions through interactive activities adaptable to your students’ learning needs and level.

See the Len Lye: Happy Moments exhibition

At school find out more about Len Lye and his art, start your search at

Abstract animation

Visual Art/Science: Physical world/Technology
Y5 - 8, 75 mins +


How did old school animation work? What makes Len Lye’s films still cool today? We go to the flicks to discover how image, movement and sound are combined to create an illusion. Students analyse animation techniques and use gallery zoetropes (animation viewing devices) to create their own moving image. See the exhibition Len Lye: Happy Moments

BYO your class video camera or cell phone to record students’ animations.

At school view Len Lye films online or the Colour Box DVD available from the Govett-Brewster Shop or loan from the Gallery educators.

Teachers, download the Len Lye: Abstract Animation resource here


Kinetic kapahaka

Visual Art/Ngā toi/Te Reo
All year levels, 60 mins +


Learn from Kureitanga II IV, Ralph Hotere: Black Paintings 1 – 7 and Len Lye: Happy Moments with a kapahaka focus. We discuss cultural sustainability through the use of waiata and poi then collect new kupu Māori on a poster and translate these using body shapes and movements.  In the cinema, students work in groups to put together a sequence of moves using glow-in-the-dark poi.

At school continue to practice using Te Reo from your poster and extend to new body movements in larger groups to help tell a story.

Science enquiry

Science: Physical world, Material world
Y5 – 8, 60 mins +


Lye was a Da Vinci figure combining science and art. Contact the gallery educators to discuss how a visit to the Len Lye Centre can motivate your students’ to develop their own enquiry into light, materials, movement or nature.

Secondary School Programme

Secondary school visits to the Govett-Brewster are most successful when teachers and gallery educators collaborate. To inspire your programme we can shape a lesson tailored specifically for your students from Year 9 +.

Secondary art teachers taking part in the gallery schools programme consistently praise the sessions as relevant and thought provoking.

“Keep up the good work. Activities engaged students’ perceptions about visual art and oral aspects of art." - high school art teacher

Term 3 & 4 - Secondary

Selected exhibition themes are described by curriculum area and can be developed into a tour which includes worksheets, creative group activities or extended in the Learning Centre into workshops. Focus on visual art with teacher input, go cross-curricula, with architecture, materials technology, performing arts, and wider social contexts such as the functions of contemporary art and the role of museums including cultural tourism.


23 Sep – 3 Dec


What’s special about painting? Junior Art students identify similarities and differences between a range of contemporary painting styles, media and meanings seen in Kureitanga II IV, Surface Affect: Michael Zavros, Amanda Gruenwald, Jeena Shin and Ralph Hotere: Black Paintings 1 – 7.

Students learn
- to describe and analyse paintings
- how artists are inspired by the past to create new art, ie transforming tukutuku and kowhaiwhai into contemporary geometric paintings
- stylistic features of geometric abstraction, photo realism, and abstract expressionism
- social contexts for making art –  how does contemporary Māori art connect with traditional approaches?
- social contexts for experiencing art – what is the difference between seeing ngā toi in a whare nui, in an art gallery or at a museum?

Time permitting, junior students can construct a geometric folded artwork that combines contrasting painting styles to summarise their Gallery learning.

Teachers, team up your students with a junior maths class for a fun end-of year Art Gallery visit, learning how maths and art can combine in surprising ways.

These painting exhibitions are perfect for Visual Art students working with 1.1 and 2.1 Research Contemporary Artworks. Students can research four artworks from the exhibitions, comparing and contrasting two artworks by Māori artists (Hotere and WharehokaSmith) with two other painters (Zavros, Gruenwald or Shin). This real life practise enables students to apply their art terminology and learning to actual artworks rather than reproductions. In preparation for producing either a poster or AV presentation later at school students can
- complete an artwork analysis sheet
- produce two 'compare and contrast' pages

Work in Progress

19 Aug – 7 Sep


A rare opportunity for students to see museum work from behind the scenes in the gallery exhibition spaces. Large paintings, sculpture, a woven harakeke leaf textile and a wall hanging are being prepared for exhibition and long-term care. Museum registrars, art handlers, curators, photographers and conservators are available to talk to student groups. By arrangement only, please contact the Gallery educators for more details.

Art, science and society


Focus on art and photography or with teacher input, go cross-curricula, with architecture, materials technology, performing arts, and wider social contexts such as the functions of contemporary art and the role of museums including cultural tourism. Students experience Len Lye: Happy Moments and analyse Lye’s sculptures in terms of scale, material properties, motion and energy transfer. Team up with the science teacher and plan a combined class visit.


Talk Art


Can your students say more about art other than whether they like it or not? This general introduction to the exhibitions gives students confidence and skills to analyse art through discussion and instant activities.

Direct film workshop


75 mins minimum, 24 students maximum

How did Len Lye make films without a camera?

Students view Len Lye’s direct films then use cameraless hand animation techniques to create their own whole class 16mm film.

No cost, BYO school video camera or students’ cell phones to record animations.


Photogram workshop


45 mins minimum

Why make photos without a camera? We discover how Len Lye’s photograms are different to other types of photography and why someone would make a photogram.  Key words include positive, negative, symbol, transparent, translucent and opaque. Get hands-on in the Learning Centre, experiment with the light properties of materials, arranging them on cyanotype paper to make a photogram. This unusual process combines science with art to make fantastic images. Try out our wearable camera obscura.

Media Studies


How did cameraless films work? What makes Len Lye's films in Len Lye: Happy Moments still so cool?

Inspired by innovative approaches to filmmaking and the stimulating exhibition environment, students deepen their knowledge of where film came from through a variety of hands-on options including zoetrope drawings, experiments with OHP colour projections and ‘direct’ filmmaking.

No cost, BYO school video camera or students’ cell phones to record animations.

The Len Lye Centre includes a state-of-the-art 62-seat cinema and access to Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Medianet, enabling students’ year-round access to New Zealand’s rich history of film and television.

DVC and Materials Technology


What has DVC and Technology got to do with art? Len Lye considered art, science and technology as one. His ideas and outcomes for kinetic sculptures align perfectly with the technology curriculum. Experiencing Len Lye’s work opens students to new design possibilities as they witness technologies, mechanical properties, engineering and movement in a range of transformations. Teachers please talk to the gallery’s education team about how we can connect your students with Len Lye.



How can art be used to learn about science? Lye was a Da Vinci figure, combining science and art. In Len Lye: Happy Moments students witness physics in action. Young physicists apply their classroom learning in the Gallery’s unique environment using worksheets and simple hands-on activities including off-cuts from Len Lye’s sculptures. Team up with the art teacher and plan a combined class visit.




Visit the exhibition Len Lye: Happy Moments to see how Lye’s kinetic sculptures offer students dynamic motivation for a wide range of dance outcomes. How can dance be used to communicate science ideas and information?

See this TED Talk


Māori Studies


The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre welcomes Wharekura and Māori Studies classes to all exhibitions. Contact the Gallery educators to discuss how visits can enhance language and hands-on learning needs.

Kureitanga II IV provides students with a challenging context to practice Te Reo, learn about the Taranaki waiata Pērā Hoki and see how contemporary artist WharehokaSmith re-interprets a traditional waiata.

At school view WharehokaSmith’s online interview
06 759 0858

Te Reo Māori

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre welcome kura kaupapa and bilingual classes to all exhibitions.

Contact the Gallery educators to discuss how visits can enhance language and hands-on learning needs.
06 759 0858