Museums and Galleries in Christchurch

  • Canterbury Museum Christchurch NZ

Christchurch has several options when it comes to seeking out Museums and Galleries to visit. These are particularly attractive as the weather starts to cool down, and even more so when entry is free.

Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue

The Gallery houses one of the foremost public art collections in New Zealand, including superb Canterbury paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, photography and applied arts. Its dynamic programme offers a range of collection-based, national and international touring exhibitions – lectures, films and other special events make the Gallery both an enjoyable and impressive place to visit.

Check out the Antarctic wing for an impressive collection of items relating to New Zealand's adventures in Antarctica and some relics from the ill fated Ernest Shackleton expedition. The Discovery area of the Museum offers plenty of child-sized interactive displays and entry to this area is only a $2 donation. (Children under 3 are free.)

You can combine your Museum visit with a wander around the Arts Centre over the road, or through the Botanic Gardens to the Avon River or the Ilex Cafe. 

Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities, Christchurch Arts Centre

Just across the road from the Museum is the Arts Centre, which is now home to a new museum as part of the University of Canterbury taking up residence in the complex. In May 2017, the new Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities will open on the ground floor of the Chemistry Building.

You will be able to explore the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities, where you can see more than two and a half thousand years of human history through the amazing James Logie Memorial Collection of artefacts from Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Near Eastern cultures.

The Logie Collection is one of the University of Canterbury's great treasures, and contains some of the finest classical antiquities in New Zealand. Amazingly, these treasures largely survived the Christchurch earthquakes intact, and have been stored safely or displayed in the Classics Department following careful conservation work to repair quake damage.

Christchurch Art Gallery, cnr Montreal Street and Worcester Boulevard

While at the other end of the block (heading towards Cathedral Square) the Christchurch Art Gallery contains an extensive collection of pieces and was finally re-opened following major earthquake repair work in December 2015. The majority of exhibitions are free entry, however occasional touring shows may require an entry fee.

The gallery offers free guided tours with knowledgeable guides. Tours last 45–60 minutes. No need to book. Meet at the front desk on the ground floor.

Introduction to the Gallery
11am and 2pm daily 

Late-Night Tour
7.15pm Wednesday

Group Tours
To book a private group tour call +64 3 941 7342 

Oh Baby it’s Art
9.30am first Thursday of every month 
starting on Thursday 4 February 2016
Free guided art tours especially for parents with babies. Buggies welcome.

Tours with a Sign Language Interpreter 
7.15pm late-night tour Wednesday 3 February, Wednesday 4 May, Wednesday 3 August, Wednesday 2 November

Audio Guides
As you explore the Gallery you will see many works have icons indicating audio guides. These guides feature artists, poetry, music and other responses to the art. You can use your smartphone to play the audio guides. If you need headphones you can ask for a set at the front desk on the ground floor. If you do not have a smartphone you can borrow one at the front desk. The link here will take you to the audio guides (so you can even listen before you visit!)

Toi Moroki - Centre of Contemporary Art, 66 Gloucester Street

Practically next door to the city art gallery is the CoCA gallery, another Canterbury institution restored following the earthquakes. Formerly known as the Canterbury Society of Arts, the group renamed itself in the 1980s as the Center of Contemporary Art. The gallery was based on a simple premise: that the making of art by artists could be supported by regularly exhibiting art in Christchurch; it's what was true in 1880 and remains true for CoCA today.

The CoCA building suffered significant damage in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. Over four million dollars was spent on strengthening, repairing and refurbishing the gallery during its closure and on 13th February 2016, the gallery re-opened with a fresh and reinvigorated vision.

Check out the website on the link above to see the current exhibitions. Entry fee is $10 per person.

Wigram AirForce Museum, Harvard Ave Wigram

The Air Force Museum of New Zealand had its origins in the RNZAF Historical Centre, established at RNZAF Base Wigram in 1976. This was a small-scale, part-time venture, until 1981 when a formal Air Force Order established the RNZAF Museum as an official Air Force unit, staffed by uniformed Air Force personnel. 

The collection is very diverse and includes objects from the early days of New Zealand military aviation prior to World War I and during; the interwar years which saw the formation of the RNZAF in 1937; New Zealanders who served with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and in other Allied air forces during World War II; the RNZAF’s campaign in the Pacific, and the post-War period to the present day.

The collection also includes objects from former enemy forces.

Since opening in 1976, the Airforce Museum has had significant additional space added, and now also serves as a venue function for many different organisations throughout the year. 

If you’re an active explorer, collect a “Walk Wigram” tour booklet from the Welcome Desk and head out of the Museum on a self-guided tour of exploration and discovery around this historic former air base.

During a leisurely hour-long stroll, you will encounter original buildings and significant sites from Wigram’s aviation past and uncover stories of what life was like for the many people who have trained and served here since 1916.

Open daily from 10am - 5pm (except Christmas Day) and entry is free. The complex includes a cafe so you can enoy the displays then catch your breath with a coffee and something to eat.