Exhibition opening

Ruth Buchanan 'My I, I, I be broke' 2019, installation view Hopkinson Mossman, Wellington
Francis Upritchard, Martino Gamper, Karl Fritsch, Lynne Mackay, '2 Eyed Piece' 2011. Govett-Brewster Collection
Gretchen Albrecht Magenta/Yellow 1982. Govett-Brewster Collection
Fiona Clark 'Sharon at Mojos Nightclub Auckland, 1975' 1975. Courtesy the artist. Govett-Brewster Collection
Jim Allen 'New Zealand Environment No 5' circa 1969. Govett-Brewster Collection
Len Lye 'A Flip and Two Twisters (Trilogy)' 1977, 2016. Govett-Brewster Collection
Peter Robinson 'Inflation theory 1' 2001. Govett-Brewster Collection
Maree Horner 'Diving Board' 1974-1998. Govett-Brewster Collection
Michael Stevenson 'Donald Judd Incident 3' 1995. Govett-Brewster Collection
Tom Kreisler 'Old/New' 1983. Govett-Brewster Collection
7 Dec 2019 to 22 Mar 2020
Every day 10am - 5pm. Closed Christmas Day
A project led by artist Ruth Buchanan marking 50 years of the Govett-Brewster Collection
Event type: 
Art, Exhibition, Public Art
$15, NP residents/Under 16s/Friends free
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
Queen St, Ngāmotu New Plymouth


An exhibition featuring close to 300 works from the Govett Brewster Collection is the most artworks shown at one time at the Gallery since it opened in 1970.

The summer exhibition is the first event to mark the 50th year of New Zealand’s contemporary art museum in New Plymouth. It’s also a critical interrogation of the Govett-Brewster Collection, showing artworks from 190 artists. 

The exhibition titled 'The scene in which I find myself / Or, where does my body belong' is developed by New Plymouth-born artist Ruth Buchanan (b.1980), of Te Atiawa, Taranaki and Pākehā descent, living in Berlin. Last year Buchanan won New Zealand’s most prestigious contemporary art award, the biennial Walters Prize, for a mixed media installation.

During Buchanan’s 2016 Govett-Brewster artist residency she undertook in-depth research into the Gallery’s collection with a focus on policy. Four years later she seeks to further uncover the mechanisms of collecting, challenging the role and success of the art museum.

Established by New Plymouth woman Monica Brewster (nee Govett), the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery was founded on a visionary exhibition and collection policy in 1970. Today Buchanan is asking why the Gallery has collected what it has in the last 50 years, and what should it collect and hold for the next 50 years. 

The exhibition (Sat 7 Dec – 22 Mar 2020) presents artworks by many of New Zealand’s leading artists from the last five decades, including Jim Allen, Flora Scales, Ralph Hotere, Tom Kreisler, Colin McCahon, Gretchen Albrecht, Christine Hellyar, Fiona Clark, Stanley Palmer, Darcy Lange, Len Lye, Maree Horner, Mary Louise Browne, Peter Robinson, Michael Stevenson, Giovanni Intra, Saskia Leek, Brendon Wilkinson, Francis Upritchard, Ngahina Hohaia and Lisa Reihana.

Spanning the entire museum, each of the galleries is dedicated to 10 years. For each of the five decades of collecting, Buchanan has developed categories including Female, Body Work, Māori, 20th century, Deceased, Pairs, Hands, and In or Around the Pacific. Through the galleries, the complex imbalances in the Govett-Brewster Collection come into close contact with one another: race, gender, and culture through to the shifts in medium preferences and content.  

Into 2020 celebrate the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s 50th anniversary with a party on Queen St, on Leap Year’s Saturday 29 February, 3-9pm. Join in with art, music and refreshments for all ages.  

Written by

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

25 Nov 2019

Interests The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand's premier contemporary art museum and home to the collection of modernist filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye. Admission is free.