New Plymouth is set be become New Zealand’s hub of contemporary art with the relaunch of the Govett Brewster Art Gallery and opening of the Len Lye Centre.

The Govett Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s first and only museum of contemporary art reopens this month with the brand new architectural addition of the Len Lye Centre – New Zealand’s first institution dedicated to a single artist; the pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, Len Lye. With its curved exterior walls of mirror-like stainless steel, the Len Lye Centre is set to be one of the country’s most iconic buildings. Inspired by the movement of light in Lye’s sculptural and film work, Patterson Associates LTd building design is deeply influenced by the life, ideas, writings and work of Len Lye. Forging with Lye’s belief that, “great architecture goes fifty-fifty with great art.”

Len Lye (1901-1980) was a visionary pioneer of film and one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from New Zealand. Legendary among experimental filmmakers, his ‘direct films’ made by painting and scratching on celluloid were part of Lye’s prescient vision for a new ‘art of movement’. His dynamic and innovative motorised stainless steel sculptures of the 1960s express a creative energy that Lye also brought to film, painting, photography and poetry.


Lye chose to make Taranaki the home of his works with a vision of making it, “the swingiest art gallery of the antipodes.” Since 1980 the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, has housed and cared for the Len Lye Collection and Archive, in partnership with the Len Lye Foundation.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery began its life as a cinema, The Peoples Pictures Cinema from 1913 and then the Regent Theatre from 1930 to 1970. Film will once again be at its heart as the Len Lye Centre incorporates a 62 seat cineman designed to present Lye’s films to their best advantage and offer audiences the opportunity to rediscover the filmmaker’s landmark works that pioneered innovation in film, media and art.

The programme will pay particular attention to film innovation exploring experimental film, while also showcasing the complementary work of other national and international filmmakers and time-based artists.

Relaunching on Saturday 25 July the opening exhibitions will include Len Lye: Four Fountains in the new Large Works Gallery.
Len Lye’s kinetic masterpiece, Trilogy (A Flip and Two Twisters) – a frenzy of movement and light designed for the Govett-Brewster’s highest gallery; and Our Hearts of Darkness, which charts the way that violence is embedded within NZ identity.

From 25 July, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre wil be open 6 days a week (closed Tuesdays) at 42 Queen Street, New Plymouth. Entry is free. For more information visit:

 Article | Oliver Hall.