Primary and Intermediate School Programme

All primary and intermediate school programmes are led by gallery educators and take place in the gallery spaces, with hands-on activities in the Learning Centre when time allows. The descriptions below indicate what you can expect from each session; each programme can be customised for your class age group and area of focus – simply chat with our team today.
06 759 0858 

Term 1 - Primary and Intermediate

Make the gallery your classroom. Come face to face with art as your students have a creativity upgrade. The learning available from contemporary art and that of Len Lye reaches across the curriculum. Gallery education programmes immerse students in art. They come away knowing how to participate, becoming thoughtful gallery viewers with transferable skills and knowledge.

Who am I?

Visual Art
9 Dec – 4 Mar
Y 1 – 8, 90 mins


We explore the collages in John Stezaker: Lost World to discover imaginative ways art plays with people, time and place. Student groups play with unexpected image combinations, placing their face 'inside' a printed image and creating pareidolia (seeing faces in inanimate objects).

In the Learning Centre students practise drawing tones and textures then draw a partial self-portrait which they collage into a landscape to show themselves in a surprising way.

At school

Write a story based on the collages in the exhibition Lost World.

Try out other types of collage, including decoupage and 3D collage, using objects.

Research dada or surrealist art.


Big Bang Painting

Visual Art
19 Dec – 25 Apr
Y 1 – 6, 90 mins


How can art tell us about mysteries of nature? We tour the exhibition Len Lye: Big Bang Theory to learn how Len Lye combined his observation of nature with indigenous art to create paintings showing people’s connection to nature. Students make links between Len Lye’s paintings and science images of unseen ‘worlds’. In the Learning Centre students collaborate to paint a large dye and crayon artwork that reveals mysteries of nature.


At school

Make drawings of mini beasts magnifying them to observe detail.

Research Australian and Pacific and Melanesian indigenous art. How is nature depicted?

Read Māori creation myths, look at whakairo, how do carvings show stories in visual ways?

Research Len Lye and Biomorphic Surrealism.

Make cross section drawings of the insides of onions, wood, bread, flowers and vegetables.

Investigate science and stories about how the world was formed including the story of Rangi and Papa.

Find pictures of worlds we can’t see because they are too tiny, far away, deep or long ago.


Forces of nature sculpture park

Visual Art/Science: Physical World/Technology
6 Feb – 25 Apr
Y 5 – 8, 90 mins


How was Len Lye inspired by our amazing world to create kinetic sculptures and paint incredible environments? We visit Len Lye: Big Bang Theory, and his kinetic sculptures Blade and Ribbon Snake to learn how Len Lye combined his childhood experiences, imagination and observation to create new worlds. Students brainstorm words describing forces of nature (energy) and invent body moves inspired by extreme forces. In the Learning Centre students invent simple sculptures and place them in their group’s collaged diorama to create a sculpture park that’s out of this world.


At school

Share a science-fiction book and describe its special features.

Make kinetic drawings, marble roll or dragging paint loaded string.

Use your forces of nature brainstorm for poetry writing, then dance your poem.

Find out about Māori ‘gods’ associated with forces of nature.

Design a poster or promo video for your sculpture theme park that describes its movements and sounds.

Mind map problems and solutions to building your sculpture park full size.


Dance a painting

Dance/Visual Art
29 Jan – 25 Apr
Y 1 – 4, 75 mins


Fingers become flicks and legs become lines – we use our whole bodies to experience paintings in Len Lye: Big Bang Theory. As a class we use story starters to create a collection of action words and invent moves on the theme of growth, under the earth, under the water. We connect Len Lye’s abstract films to movement. In the Learning Centre student groups capture each other’s body moves to create a life sized layered drawing to the sound of music.

At school

Practise body awareness activities and games. 

Make masks based on your dance story.

Make a movie of your danced painting.  

Investigate science and stories about how the  world was formed including the story of Rangi and Papa.

Find pictures of worlds we can’t see because they are too tiny, far away, deep or long ago.



Ngā toi Māori banners

Visual Art/Ngā Toi/Te Reo Māori/Maths: Geometry
10 Mar – 29 Apr
Y 1 – 8, 90 mins


Connect banners and art with whanau and whenua. We tour Abstractions: Works from the Govett-Brewster Collection, Kureitanga II IV and Whakapapa IV. We learn about the importance of whakapapa, practise Te Reo and discover meanings behind some shapes and patterns seen in whakairo and tukutuku. Students experiment with geometric transformations and positive and negative shapes. In the Learning Centre students arrange wooden relief shapes under fabric, rubbing with pastel to create a banner of symbols about their family or place. 

This lesson has great links to Puke Ariki’s ‘Te toi Raranga‘ lesson and ‘Parihaka: Contested Ground’ guided research session so plan now for a rotation between the museum and art gallery.


At school

Practise geometry language and use it to describe raranga, tukuktuku and kowhaiwhai.

Capture patterns in nature – irregular and regular shapes, positive and negative.

Use geometric ideas from tukutuku to create a group mural design.

Weave a pattern with paper, plastic or harakeke.

Learn about whakapapa and why it’s important.

Find out about Taranaki carving symbols and styles.

Analyse the meanings of flags or banners.


Sculpture sun hat

Visual Art/Technology/Wearable art
6 Feb – 25 Apr
Y 1 – 8, 90 mins


How did Len Lye use creativity and innovation to make his art? We visit Blade and Ribbon Snake to learn about Len Lye’s ‘number 8 wire’ approach to problem solving, including any artist’s first problem – how to get a good idea. We discuss the importance of innovation and creativity in wider society. Students use problem solving skills to design a sculpture ‘sun hat’ that protects from the sun and uses the sun’s energy.

This lesson has strong links to Puke Ariki’s “Creativity and innovation” exhibition, so plan now for a rotation between the museum and art gallery.

At school

Students photograph each other wearing their design then label their photo with special features.

Creativity and innovation in wearable art – analyse your own outfit, why do we have buttons, zips, laces, domes, velcro, seams?  

What did Polynesian cultures traditionally use to make clothes?

History and advances in wearable technology – eg. footwear, watches, fit bits, glasses

Clothing technology in te Ao Māori and Polynesia – Puke Ariki’s education programme Te Toi raranga  has a focus the art and technology of weaving.

Where does clothing design start – fashion or problem solving?

Extend the idea behind your sculpture sunhat to a complete outfit.

Find out about sustainable clothing manufacturing.


Outdoor art

Murals/sculptures – bring street art to your school
Visual Art/Ngā toi/Te Reo
Y 5 – 8, 120 mins


Planning an artwork for your school? Meet a Gallery educator in Huatoki Plaza to collect mural and/or sculpture ideas and gain an understanding of the problems in designing a public artwork. Walk together up to the Len Lye Centre to visit Kureitanga II IV and gather ideas on how artists can communicate using abstract art techniques. We also practise Te Reo linked to ngā toi. In the Learning Centre student groups create designs with an environmental or community message. Students collage their designs onto a school wall/playground photo to plan their mural/sculpture. Teachers, prior to your visit please email a photo of a recognisable empty school wall to

At school

View artist WharehokaSmith’s online interview

Exploring Len Lye

Visual Art/Dance
All year levels, 60 mins +


What can we learn from Len Lye? Introduce your students to the wonders of Len Lye’s art and the acclaimed architecture of the Len Lye Centre. Experience the multi-sensory exhibitions through interactive activities adaptable to your students’ learning needs and level.

See the Len Lye: Big Bang Theory and Len Lye: Blade for relevant exhibitions.

At school find out more about Len Lye and his art. Start your search at

Abstract animation

Visual Art/Science: Physical world/Technology
Y5 - 8, 75 mins +


How did old school animation work? What makes Len Lye’s films still cool today? We go to the flicks to discover how image, movement and sound are combined to create an illusion. Students analyse animation techniques and use gallery zoetropes (animation viewing devices) to create their own moving image.

BYO your class video camera or cell phone to record students’ animations.

At school
View Len Lye films online or the Colour Box DVD available from the Govett-Brewster Shop or loan from the Gallery educators.

Teachers, download the Len Lye: Abstract Animation resource here

Kinetic kapahaka

Visual Art/Ngā toi/Te Reo
All year levels, 60 mins +


Learn from Kureitanga II IV, Whakapapa IV and Len Lye: Blade with a kapahaka focus.

We collect new kupu Māori on a poster and translate these using body movement.  In the cinema, students work in groups to put together a sequence of moves using glow-in-the-dark poi.

At school
Continue to practice using Te Reo from your poster and extend to new body movements in larger groups to help tell a story.

Secondary School Programme

Secondary school visits to the Govett-Brewster are most successful when teachers and gallery educators collaborate. To inspire your programme we can shape a lesson tailored specifically for your students from Year 9 +.

Secondary art teachers taking part in the gallery schools programme consistently praise the sessions as relevant and thought provoking.

“Keep up the good work. Activities engaged students’ perceptions about visual art and oral aspects of art." - high school art teacher


Selected exhibition themes are described by curriculum area and can be developed into a tour which includes worksheets, creative group activities or extended in the Learning Centre into workshops. Focus on visual art with teacher input, go cross-curricula, with architecture, materials technology, performing arts, and wider social contexts such as the functions of contemporary art and the role of museums including cultural tourism.


9 Dec – 4 Mar


Visit John Stezaker: Lost World and Len Lye’s photograms as motivation towards NCEA 3.1 photography – approaches to invented images.
Students investigate:
- historical cinema as inspiration for photography
- experiments with composition and cropping of found images
- social contexts and stylistic features of Surrealist photography
- compare and contrast Len Lye’s photograms
- see photogram workshop description below

For more information on John Stezaker: Lost World

Artist's workshop - Postcard from a lost world

Sat 10 Feb | 10.30am – 12.30pm


Todd Energy Learning Centre     
Ages 12+ | 20 max
Entry by donation | Booking essential

Journey to another world with Taranaki creative Dale Copeland. Cut ‘n’ paste surreal collage postcards to covet or post. BYO old images and papers to exchange.

Book online



16 Dec – 18 Mar


Visit Len Lye: Big Bang Theory as motivation towards NCEA 2.1 and 3.1 – surrealist painting and drawing.

Students investigate: 
- stylistic features of Surrealism
- connections between art, dreams, fantasy and nature
- Len Lye’s ‘old brain’ theory – how to get good art ideas through imagination, science, indigenous cultures and our senses
- social contexts for artists –  Modernism and the creative role of the artist

Photogram workshop


45 mins minimum

Why make photos without a camera? We discover how Len Lye’s photograms are different to other types of photography and why someone would make a photogram.  Key words include positive, negative, symbol, transparent, translucent and opaque. Get hands-on in the Learning Centre, experiment with the light properties of materials, arranging them on cyanotype paper to make a photogram. This unusual process combines science with art to make fantastic images. Try out our wearable camera obscura.

Direct film workshop


75 mins minimum, 24 students maximum

How did Len Lye make films without a camera?

Students view Len Lye’s direct films then use cameraless hand animation techniques to create their own whole class 16mm film.

No cost, BYO school video camera or students’ cell phones to record animations.


Art, science and society


Focus on art and photography or with teacher input, go cross-curricula, with architecture, materials technology, performing arts, and wider social contexts such as the functions of contemporary art and the role of museums including cultural tourism. Students experience Len Lye: Blade and Len Lye: Big Bang Theory and analyse Lye’s sculptures in terms of scale, material properties, motion and energy transfer.
Team up with the science teacher and plan a combined class visit.


Talk Art


Can your students say more about art other than whether they like it or not? This general introduction to the exhibitions gives students confidence and skills to analyse art through discussion and instant activities.

Media Studies

2 Apr – 6 Jul


How did cameraless movies work? What makes Len Lye’s films still so cool? Inspired by innovative approaches to filmmaking and the stimulating exhibition Len Lye: Cinema on the Wrong Side of the Tracks, students deepen their knowledge of where film came from through a variety of hands-on options including zoetrope drawings, experiments with OHP colour projections and ‘direct’ filmmaking.

No cost, BYO school video camera or students’ cell phones to record animations.

The Len Lye Centre includes a state-of-the-art 62-seat cinema and access to Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Medianet, enabling students’ year-round access to New Zealand’s rich history of film and television.



Visit Len Lye: Blade to see how Lye’s kinetic sculptures offer students dynamic motivation for a wide range of dance outcomes. How can dance be used to communicate science ideas and information?

See this TED Talk 

Māori Studies


The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre welcomes Wharekura and Māori Studies classes to all exhibitions. Contact the Gallery educators to discuss how visits can enhance language and hands-on learning needs.

Kureitanga II IV provides students with a challenging context to practice Te Reo, learn about the Taranaki waiata Pērā Hoki and see how contemporary artist WharehokaSmith re-interprets a traditional waiata.

At school view WharehokaSmith’s online interview
06 759 0858

Te Reo Māori

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre welcome kura kaupapa and bilingual classes to all exhibitions.

Contact the Gallery educators to discuss how visits can enhance language and hands-on learning needs.
06 759 0858