The Govett-Brewster opened its doors in 1970, and continues to build on its 50-year legacy of presenting art from local, national and international contemporary artists that explores and celebrates who we are – our people, our place, our communities, our cultures, our histories and our understanding of the world.
Transforming the city’s decommissioned heritage cinema, the original museum opened in 1970 with a ground-breaking exhibition and multi-sensory installation. Since that time we have continued to present a lively programme where people can connect with art and artists through tours, talks, workshops, films, performances, music and education programs, and grow the permanent collection of paintings, video, installation and photography.
In 1977 we presented Kinetic Works, the first survey of Aotearoa artist Len Lye's work 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.
In 2015 we opened as the combined Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre with a renewed vision and vigour to promote and foster contemporary art and the conversations it encourages including the work and vision of Len Lye.
We continue to build on this history in a manner that honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles of partnership, participation and protection by recognising tangata whenua and respecting tikanga and taonga, and aims to engage our diverse local, national and international audiences.