This striking building in the heart of Christchurch is the new kid on the Art Gallery block, having only being opened in 2003. Its all glass exterior is modernistic and edgy while the outdoor sculpture garden is spectacular.
The emphasis is mainly on the cream of the region's historic and contemporary work but touring national and international exhibitions do stop here. From almost photo realistic rural landscapes and mountain streams to historical maritime masterpieces and depictions of historical places, you can build up a sense of what this region was like when the first European settlers arrived and how much the region has grown up. In all there are over 5 and a half thousand pieces on display for visitors to pour over. Pick up an audio tour headset from the reception area to get a great introduction to what you are seeing. These can also be downloaded to your ipod through their excellent website. Plenty of talks, film screenings, floor walks and lectures are scheduled to let you go behind the collection and delve in deeper on a given topic.
The bookshop and gift store is better than most with terrific New Zealand made goods for sale inspired by the gallery's collection. There is a range of beautiful cards, prints, postcards and art books.
Jewellery, glass and ceramics can be brought from the Form Gallery, inside the main Gallery. There is also a very stylish and award winning Wine bar and restaurant on the grand floor of the premises. You can sit here and take in the views of the sculpture garden, the arts centre next door and busy Worcester Street. Allow at least 2 hours, more if you want to linger in the restaurant.
Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch
03 941 7300