Take a walk along New Plymouth’s waterfront and you’ll likely be drawn to the mesmerising, moving sculptures by the late Len Lye. An artist like no other, the New Zealander was a devotee to the “art of motion”, specialising in creating kinetic installations – often long, wand-like structures set in public areas that bow and whistle with the wind.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery on Queen Street houses the Len Lye Centre, home to a vast collection (some 18,000 items) of Lye’s groundbreaking work, including textiles, photograms and experimental films. But don’t overlook the gallery proper – it’s one of New Zealand’s finest cutting-edge, contemporary art museums. Built on the site of the city’s former heritage cinema, it features nine exhibition spaces, including a 60-seat cinema updated from the previous one.

The permanent collection is an eclectic mix of paintings, photographs and sculptures (check out the corrugated iron fashioning of the Interislander ferry Arahura) and be sure to grab a souvenir from the well-stocked gallery shop on your way out.

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Updated: May 18th, 2023

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