Pioneering, daring and what Len Lye called the 'swingiest art gallery in the antipodes', the Govett-Brewster is a contemporary art museum of the Pacific, with an international reputation and reach.
Founded on a visionary exhibition and collection policy in 1970, we continue to court the radical, seek the new and provide a space for engagement and dialogue for people from all walks of life.
Located in the coastal city of New Plymouth, New Zealand, where WOMAD is held each year and the mighty Mount Taranaki volcano dominates the landscape, our independence from the larger cities sets us apart and provides us a measure of freedom. A freedom and sense of self-determination keenly felt by our founder, New Plymouth-born Monica Brewster, when she dreamed of an art museum for her city.
With her courage and vision, we established the museum in the city’s decommissioned heritage cinema, and opened with a groundbreaking exhibition and multi-sensory installation, and continue to present innovative and provocative work by New Zealand and international artists.
We have a significant and growing permanent collection of paintings, video, installation and photography, and present a lively and active programme where people connect with art and artists through tours, talks, workshops, films, performances and music.
Our collection has a Māori and Pacific representation, and, with regularly commissioned new and site-specific projects, we have a reputation as Aotearoa New Zealand’s premier contemporary art museum, connected to a wide network of art practitioners and audiences around the Pacific.
In 1977 we presented Kinetic Works, the first survey of Len Lye's work held anywhere in the world. Just months before his death in 1980, Lye established the Len Lye Foundation to continue his artistic vision and, recognising the strength of the relationship between artist and museum, he chose the Govett-Brewster to be the home of Len Lye.
After more than 30 years in the planning, in July 2015 we opened as the combined Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre with a renewed vision and vigour to promote and develop contemporary art and the work and vision of Len Lye. The two venues offer complementary and contrasting programmes featuring the most provocative, audacious and confident works of art from New Zealand, the Pacific and around the world.