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Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture in Nelson


Nelson is a creative place with a strong culture of artists and makers. The regions' long association with the visual arts began with early landscape painters, and later with the potters who were drawn to the region by the local clay and the climate. The influence of these early practitioners continues today.


The Suter is the city art gallery, running a programme of contemporary exhibitions in a contemporary gallery setting on the edge of a public garden in the city. The Suter also has a movie theatre, gift store and excellent cafe.

The Refinery Artspace  is an alternative public gallery in the central city. Within the same building, the Arts Council Nelson operates as a resource for artists. They have produced a very handy pocket-sized art gallery map, available at the Refinery and most central city galleries. This map shows all the city galleries, allowing visitors to easily stroll around town, stopping to check out exhibitions.

Parker Gallery is a private contemporary dealer gallery supporting a broad range of local and national artists. Media includes ceramics, sculpture, painting and glass.

Quiet Dog Gallery is a private contemporary gallery which is located alongside the Framing Rooms in the city centre.

Red Gallery is a popular place to purchase art and handmade contemporary products, including children’s books, glass casting, ceramics, and vintage rugs. They house a large collection of NZ artist’s original works and prints. There is also a café here, which is a popular meeting point, while offering the yummiest cheese scones around. 

Atkins Gallery, although tucked away in central Nelson is also worth a visit, especially for those interested in art from the West Coast, as well as the Nelson region. 

Kereru Gallery is also a private contemporary dealer gallery and is located in Mapua, 30 minutes west of Nelson city. It features the work of local artists and also exhibits work from a hand picked selection of NZ artists, including sculpture, jewellery, painting, ceramics and cast glass. The contemporary gallery space opens up to 3 exhibition spaces and also contains a jewellers workshop and sculptors workshop that can be viewed by the public. 

Coolstore Gallery is a large store, with an excellent range of local art, jewellery, ceramics and gifts. You will find Coolstore in Mapua, 30 minutes west of Nelson city.


The Nelson Provincial Museum is situated in the main street in the city and has a programme of changing exhibitions and a permanent local history exhibition. 

Founders Heritage Park houses a number of groups with historical themes, with displays of Nelson’s heritage and artisans in character buildings. An historic train operates here, with a short railway line running from the park.

The World of WearableArt (WOW) museum is situated in Nelson, with a permanent display of the garments used in the annual stage production now based in Wellington. There is also a Classic Car Museum here.


Pottery Studios

Nelson is widely regarded, along with Coromandel, as being the home of NZ pottery. The 1960 saw the introduction of studio ceramics to NZ, largely as the result of international potters immigrating the country. Later, tertiary training courses were established, leading to a new generation of potters. While the pottery community is not as large as it was, some potters have studios which are open to the public. We recommend contacting the potters prior to visiting to confirm opening hours.

Owen Bartlett and Katie Gold. This studio is situated in a historical property nestled amongst beautiful gardens in the Upper Moutere village, 30 minutes from Nelson city. Owen produces functional domesticware including the Moutere Hills Harvest Collection – a contemporary classic vineyard inspired range. Katie is well-known throughout NZ for her highly decorative layered, wrapped and textured forms featuring map, shell and plant themes

Royce McGlashen. McGlashen Pottery is located at Brightwater, 20 minutes from Nelson city. Royce is one of NZ’s leading potters, producing a wide range of contemporary, well designed tableware, plus ceramic art pieces and paintings. 

Steve Fullmer. Fullmer Gallery is located in Tasman Village, 35 minutes from Nelson city. Steve’s handmade tableware and sculptural work often reflects his sense of humour and uses layered colour, and sophisticated loose decoration with a water-colour-like quality.

Sue Newitt. This pottery gallery is located a similar location. Sue makes a range of sophisticated domesticware in white earthenware and porcelain

Darryl Frost. Darryl is nationally and internationally recognised for his wood fired ceramics and his large scale multi-media work. Darryl’s gallery is located in Tasman, 35 minutes from Nelson city and his work is represented by Kereru Gallery in Mapua. Darryl also has a new gallery located on Harley Rd, Mapua.

Jewellery and Glass

Jens Hansen Jewellers have become internationally known as the makers of the ring from the Lord of the Rings. They operate from a premise in the heart of Nelson city. 

Louise Douglas is a contemporary jeweller whose workshop and gallery are located in a small heritage building in the city.

Jewel Beetle are contemporary fine jewellers also based in Nelson city. 

Hoglund Art Glass is a glass-blowing studio operated by Ola and Marie Hoglund in Appleby, 20 minutes from Nelson city, producing sophisticated hand-blown pieces.


Michael MacMillan Gallery is located in the Moutere, 40 minutes from the central city, is an experience in itself. The bespoke built gallery exudes natural materials and is grand in scale. McMillan creates large sculptural works, mixing wood with concrete. He also creates homeware products, including cheese platters made from up-cycled wine barrels. 

Design Stores

The Old Post Office Store, Upper Moutere, is a fine example of a collective which offers food, preserves, cheeses, alongside contemporary screen printing from Skunk and Robot and fine art in the Woods and Co gallery. This is located 40 minutes from Nelson city.

Little Beehive Co-Op in the city brings together many makers of contemporary art, textiles, children’s clothing, natural cosmetics, and jewellery.