Christchurch Museums, Arts and Culture

Christchurch museums and culture have a lot to offer thanks to the area’s multicultural history. The historic blending of European and Maori culture has resulted in artworks that are unique to this part of the world. Christchurch’s many museums and galleries work to preserve and display as much of this wonderful art as possible.

Outside of the galleries, expect to find plenty of beautiful street art and public installations. Visiting the museums and galleries that represent Christchurch’s culture is best done on a cooler day. Within walking distance of each other, musing at classic and contemporary New Zealand art is the perfect way to while away a winter’s day.

Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu (its full name) is the city’s public art gallery, displaying work by both New Zealand and international artists. The Maori part of the name refers to nearby water sources. Te Puna is reference to the Wai Puna spring beneath the city centre. Waiwhetu refers to a nearby tributary flowing into the Avon River. Loosely translated, it means ‘water in which the stars are reflected’.

Canterbury Museum

The major repository for the history of the Canterbury Region and Christchurch itself is the Canterbury Museum. The museum’s exhibits focus on both local and international subjects. Canterbury Museum also hosts larger featured exhibits that provide one-of-a-kind insight into new cultures and time periods. Switch your mind to ‘curious’ mode when you enter the museum.

Christchurch Arts Centre

Formerly part of the Canterbury College, the Neolithic Gothic buildings that are now the Christchurch Arts Centre are equally as beautiful as some of the art it is home to. Discover historical writings and local artwork, as well as free theatre productions. Badly damaged in the 2010 Canterbury Earthquakes, the centre is still open for business and is actively fundraising its revitalisation.

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

A celebration of Kiwi military ingenuity and creativity, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand is home to many retired aircraft from the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). See planes and other objects used by the RNZAF aircraft prior to and during the World War I conflict. This is a must-see museum if you’re interested in military history.

Centre of Contemporary Art

Sitting in the heart of Christchurch, the Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA) is the city’s hub of modern art. Displaying local and international modern art, you can expect to find a good rotation of thought-provoking exhibits. That gallery’s aim is to provoke a dialogue about the world we live in, which art aficionados and the amateur art critic alike can comment on. 

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