Whanganui Arts, Culture & History

Whanganui has a vibrant and talented artistic community. Galleries and studios feature glass, painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, textiles and indigenous arts and crafts. Studio artists tucked away in many of the heritage buildings are worth seeking out.

Our city also boasts many buildings resplendent in their Victorian and Edwardian detail or dynamic art deco architecture. In the centre you will find wrought iron garden seats and old-style street lamps helping make Victoria Avenue one of New Zealand’s most attractive main streets. In spring, Whanganui In Bloom sees hundreds of hanging baskets, overflowing with potted colour, adorning the central city.

Whanganui Regional Museum

This museum is an essential stop in your exploration of this region. Here you can discover taonga Maori – the ancestral treasures of the River people, explore our remarkable natural environment, discover the many extinct and endangered birds and meet generations of people whose stories bring our history to life.

A focal point of any visit is the portrait gallery Te Pataka Whakaahua, the Lindauer Gallery. In the late 1800’s, Sir Walter Buller commissioned Gottfried Lindauer to paint twenty portaits of Rangatira (Māori leaders) for exhibition in London. There are new exhibits created all the time!

Sarjeant Gallery

The Gallery houses 6000 artworks ranging from historic international and New Zealand art to dynamic contemporary art including a strong focus on New Zealand photography. Enjoy a diverse range of exhibitions. Situated in its temporary home right on Taupo Quay close to the Paddle Steamer Museum and the Tram Shed.

Royal Opera House

Construction of this majestic theatre commenced in 1899. Since this date the Opera House has gained national and international recognition for its beautiful architecture and its great acoustics. Located on St Hills Street, he Opera House is used regularly by touring artists and shows as well as by local productions, fashion shows and local dance groups.

New Zealand Glassworks

Situated in the heart of Old Town Whanganui, this working/teaching studio is a place where visitors can view glass bowing in action. You could also join in a beginners glass blowing workshop. Open 7 days a week, year round.

Pick up an Arts Trail brochure from the Information Centre and visit the extensive range of styles and media of our artists. You can collect an Old Town Heritage Trail brochure (with around 38 stops around the city) from reception, or a Brass Rubbings brochure from the Information Centre and leisurely stroll viewing many of Whanganui’s significant sites.