The art scene in Wellington is nothing to take lightly. In fact, it’s downright amazing. Full of free museums and sculpture tours, Wellington is destined to make a mark in the art world if it hasn’t already done so.
I’ve visited a few museums in the past three weeks that I highly recommend. Now, I’m no art critic (or are we all?) but I like to think I’ve seen many galleries and museums in my time and have a good standard for comparison. I also lived in New York City, where some of the best art lives. I understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder so use this post as a guide, mostly made up of my opinion.
I’ll start with the sculptures. Wellington is sprinkled with sculptures throughout town and if you search for a sculpture tour map online, you’ll be overwhelmed with options. I opted for the waterfront tour (there are five others to choose from). I didn’t do it all but I saw a decent amount and the harbor made for a beautiful backdrop. My favorite piece was part of a larger sculpture tour called Wellington Writers Walk. Large cement blocks are engraved with quotes from famous New Zealand authors. My second favorite sculpture was not on the waterfront but was not far up the road on Cuba Street. It is a larger than life steel sculpture of engraved braille called Invisible City that begs to be touched. It’s a fun town to take a walk, see a sculpture, sit, and think about art.
Next I visited City Gallery Wellington in the Civic Square near the Wellington Library. Another freebie well worth the trip if you’re interested in seeing contemporary visual arts and design. The largest exhibit featured Shane Cotton’s in-your-face paintings. My favorite exhibit came from Auckland-based photographer Fiona Amundsen. Her exhibit, Operation Magic, mixed old and new photographs of Pearl Harbor and captured an interesting archival history of post-WWII Honolulu. I liked it mostly because I like Hawaii/Pearl Harbor and her perspective of the area was new to me.
Lastly, I wanted to highlight one of the most amazing exhibits I’ve seen in an unexpected and surprising locale. The Pataka Museum in Porirua was a hidden gem in a town just outside of Wellington. The museum is housed in the same complex as the city’s library and in the back of the museum lies an exhibit called Dark Cloud: White Light by photographer Joseph Michael. You sit in a white room, in a white chair, in front of one of the many large flat screen tv’s and have a look and listen. You put on headphones and let your draw drop. You are invited to enjoy a time-lapse of epic proportions. You get to explore parts of New Zealand in a tiny museum space. Everything from the comfortable headphones to the soundtrack of each time-lapse was so well thought out and put together. I could have spent hours gawking at screen after screen. I was even brought to tears at one point because I couldn’t believe such a beautiful place existed. It made me incredibly excited to explore this country. And snap a few photos of my own.
And these are just three spots in and around town. There’s plenty more to see. I’m usually one to visit museums alone so I can take my time and not feel rushed. And I don’t like when other people’s opinions cloud mine but it’s nice to know people here who can take you in and let you explore on your own or at least recommend a few good exhibits and which to avoid. Oh, and stop by the gift shop or leave a comment in the comment box. Feedback is always welcomed and purchasing local goodies is always appreciated. Then send a postcard home.