Any parent will tell you one of their favourite things to do on a Sunday afternoon is take the littlies to the botanic gardens for an ice cream and a wander around the Canterbury Museum. Thankfully the museum is impressive for all ages (and so is the icecream!) 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 their website
before you arrive in Christchurch to see what collections are showing so you can be sure to include some extra time if you need to. Right now, the Our Moon, then now and beyond exhibit is open and includes art interpretations, role plays, lectures and best of all, much of the display is hands on. The discovery Centre for young children has a $2 entry fee and contains fossils, presevered butterflies and toys to spark the imagination. It's a great place for the wee ones to run wild after being very careful in the more grown up sections of the museum. A great fun thing to do if your family is orginally from Christchurch is to take a look at the family and friends photo collection
and see if you recognise anyone.
Christchurch Art Gallery
There is always something a little bit different on display, and although the gallery does host a lot of family friendly events it can be a little inaccessable for younger children who may not alway appreciate the finer nuances of modern art. However, the gallery is a must do for everyone else.
The building is particularly famous in Christchurch, not only because pre earthquakes it was unique in design within Christchurch, but it became the back drop of our shared quake experience with the Mayor of the time using it as the base for emergency broadcasts and updates throughout the earthquake period. In May 2020,Te Wheke:
Pathways Across Oceania Collection went on display and will be here until March 2022.
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
Free guided art tours especially for parents with babies. Buggies welcome.
Tours with a Sign Language Interpreter 7.15pm late-night tour Wednesday in May and November.
Centre of Contempory Art
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.Malcom Terry has displayed his collection Sideways at Coca. This collection includes paintings during lockdown and reflect the last 6 months work.
The Air Force Museum 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. I often think the airforce museum is most suited to the oldest and youngest in our community, it's not unusual to see multiple generations of one family wandering around, each taking something different but equally enjoyable from the visit!
With Covid-19 raging around the world and the response we have made within New Zealand, you could be forgiven for forgetting it was only 10 years ago Canterbury suffered the catestruphic earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. The ever changing central city is a reflection of the reinvention the area was forced to go through after losing close to 75% of bulidings in the CBD. This special exhibition of the Canterbury Museum is located offsite on the corner of Amagh and Durham Streets and tells the stories of heroism, hope and loss from the Canterbury earthquakes. I recommend doing this, but do be prepared for quite confronting audio of survivors telling their stories. Kids will enjoy aspects of the display, however they might find some of the imagery upsetting depending on their sensibilities.
There is a $20 fee per adult for entry, seniors/students are $16 each.
No, Ernest Rutherford is not just the guy on the 5G ad! He is one of the world's greatest scientists and you can visit his study rooms at the Art's Centre for a very reasonable $10 per adult and $5 per child. The Den is a must do for anyone interested in science or history. Located in the partially restored Art's Centre, the Victorian building is very evocative of times gone by.
The collective heart of Christchurch was broken when the Arts centre suffered extensive damage during the earthquakes. Now reopen (albeit with partially closed off areas) the Art's centre is worth a special visit. Between the Art Gallery and Botanical Gardens, the Arts Centre is perfect for strolling through on the way from one to the other. Inside the Victoria buildings are iconic Christchurch business's such as The Fudge Cottage and Rollickin Gelato which are perfect for a quick stop.
While the new Riverside market may have taken over as the place to go for a leisurely weekend lunch in the city, the Arts Centre remains a treasured part of Christchurch and is well worth visiting.
The traditional Arts Centre Market is on every Sunday from 10.00 ato 4.00 pm and features local artisans selling everything from hand made cheeses to gorgeous paintings and handmade children's toys.
Growing up in Brisbane, one of my fodest memories was visiting Panaroos toy museum which sadly closed in 1989. Imagine my delight at a similar offering opening in Christchurch in 2016!. With a vast collection of toys both old and new, you can have a great time showing the kids how much better we had it!
The museum is open daily and there is a charge of $15 per adult although the family rate for 2 adults and 3 kids is $25
I am so excited to be out exploring the arts and cultural scene in Christchurch and getting the kids involved too! As we get through more experiences I'll be adding to our blog.