All systems go for Len Lye Centre

Sunset at the Len Lye wind wand, New Plymouth.New Plymouth District Council has succeeded in securing the $10 million required to build a world centre for the works of celebrated New Zealand artist Len Lye. The Len Lye Centre will operate as a combined facility with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Tenders will be called in late October with a goal to start construction in February 2013. The targeted opening date for the new facility is early 2015.

New Plymouth District Mayor Harry Duynhoven says: “This is fantastic news. The funding is now committed and we can go ahead and create a landmark building displaying the inspirational creations of one of New Zealand’s most celebrated innovators. I’ve no doubt the end product will be remarkable and will attract national and international tourists, and importantly, the building of the centre will contribute further to economic growth. A substantial infrastructure project of this kind is especially important for New Plymouth in the current economic climate.” 

The $10 million targeted for construction has been committed as follows: 

  • $1m – TSB Community Trust, committed in 2009.
  • $4m – Ministry for Arts Culture and Heritage Regional Museum Policy Fund, 2011.
  • $0.5m – Lotteries’ Environment and Heritage Fund, 2011.
  • $3m – Todd Energy, 2011.
  • $0.2m – private donors, 2012.
  • Underwrite of the remaining required amount – TSB Community Trust, 2012

New Plymouth District Council Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow says: “We are extremely thankful to all our partners for sharing of our vision of a world centre for Len Lye. The Len Lye Centre will enhance the care, display, and research of the work of Len Lye and will be the best place in the world for audiences to experience his influential art and ideas. This  is the result of a successful thirty year relationship between New Plymouth and Len Lye that began with the first Len Lye exhibition here at the Govett-Brewster in 1977 that led to his entire Collection and Archive, owned by the Len Lye Foundation, being housed at the Gallery since 1980.”

In addition to building the Len Lye Centre, the Council will also address three other pieces of work required at the Govett-Brewster: 

  • Earthquake strengthening.
  • Deferred renewals work including improvements to climate control.
  • To upgrade non-compliance with health and safety standards.

Internationally recognised architectural firm Patterson Associates, who have designed the Len Lye Centre, have integrated the required earthquake strengthening work into the overall project.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport says: “The new combined facility will offer a unique and complimentary programme of exhibitions and public engagement. The facility will share a management team and operating costs as well as the education suite, the cinema, galleries and the Art and Design Shop and cafe. This development will enhance the Gallery’s already strong position as one of the leading contemporary art museums in New Zealand.”