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12 Free Art Galleries & Museums in Wellington

Tourism NZ

Wellington Art galleries and Museums you can’t miss!

Wellington is the capital city with many nicknames, one being the “Creative Capital”. There’s always somewhere to inspire your creative spirit, with the performing arts to visual arts to captivating museums. What’s more, you don’t have to be well off to enjoy Wellington’s finest artworks and award-winning museums. Check out all the free art galleries & museums in Wellington below!

Discover the stories of Wellington city including Maori history, early European settlers, natural history and what inspires the locals today with contemporary artworks and movie-making magic. After you’ve hit all the Wellington art galleries and museums, don’t miss the 10 Wellington Must-Dos.

Plus, check out Cheap Eats in Wellington for something great to eat and fuel you for your art crawl.

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1. Te Papa Museum

If there’s one museum you have heard about in New Zealand, it’s almost definitely going to be the Te Papa Museum. This free-entry museum is New Zealand’s national museum and a go-to place to learn about the social and natural history of New Zealand. A must-visit! Find out more in our 10 Reasons Why The Te Papa Museum is Simply Unmissable.

Location: 55 Cable Street
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2. City Gallery

See an array of modern and contemporary art at the City Gallery! Photography, sculptures, paintings… who knows what you’ll see in these ever-changing exhibitions. What’s more, you can afford to check it out considering the City Gallery is free.

Location: 101 Wakefield Street
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3. Wellington Museum City & Sea

Learn all the local stories of New Zealand’s capital at the Wellington Museum. The history of Wellington is told in interesting displays and exhibitions that will keep you entertained for hours.

Location: 3 Jervois Quay
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4. New Zealand Portrait Gallery

Situated in a historic building once used as a waterside store, the New Zealand Portrait Gallery is the perfect space to see the best of local portrait art. Don’t miss this free art gallery in Wellington!

Location: Shed 11, Customhouse Quay
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5. Pataka Art + Museum

Stop by the city of Porirua, just a short drive from Wellington city, and revel in magnificent Maori art. Carvings, pounamu, paintings and more can be seen on display in this fascinating and free art gallery and museum. See more things to do in 10 Fun Things to do in Porirua.

Location: Norrie and Parumoana Streets, Porirua City
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6. The Dowse Art Museum

Another fantastic free suburban art gallery and museum in Wellington is the The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt. With more than 2,000 items on display, The Dowse Art Museum holds one of New Zealand’s largest public art collections.

Location: 45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt
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7. Petone Settlers Museum

Set on the shores of the Wellington Harbour, the Petrone Settlers Museum is one of the most iconic memorial buildings of the city. Learn about the local social history from the early Moari to the British settlers.

Location: Petone
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8. Cable Car Museum

Discover the stories of Wellington’s iconic cable cars inside this free museum! Situated in the old winding house of the cable cars, you’ll see two original grip cars, winding machinery and more. The museum is at the top of the Cable Car and in the Wellington Botanic Garden. You can even pay a small fee to ride the Wellington Cable Car too. It’s one of the 14 Free or Cheap Things to do in Wellington.

Location: 1A Upland Road, Kelburn.
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9. Weta Cave

Get a peak into the behind the scenes of blockbuster movies like The Lord of the Rings at the Weta Cave. Weta are the team behind the special effects and props in tens of movies, just take a look at 10 Blockbuster Movies You Didn’t Know Were Made in Wellington. The Weta Cave has a mini museum where you can check out some props, as well as a free video viewing about the company. Also, check out Guide to The Lord of the Rings in Wellington.

Location: 1 Weka Street, Miramar
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10. New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts

For more than a decade, the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts has showcased more than 4,000 artists in its historic building. See their latest free exhibitions to see what’s new!

Location: 1 Queens Wharf
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11. Reserve Bank Museum

Explore the economic history of New Zealand including financial crises, and early workings of the New Zealand economy. There are plenty of artifacts on display including works of art.

Location: 2 The Terrace.
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12. St James Theatre

Not only will you get to experience the grand St James Theatre buildings, you’ll also see displays of art in their free exhibition on the first floor.

Location: 77-87 Courtenay Place
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