The best art galleries in Australia


art galleries in Australia

The history of art in Australia is deeply inspiring; from Indigenous artistic traditions and contemporary works, to photography, portraiture and sculpture through the ages, it's celebrated in countless art galleries located all over the country. From Melbourne to Canberra, and Perth to Hobart - there are ample opportunities to explore the artistic culture of Australia.

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (in photo)
Starting life as a humble artists cottage in 1984, this arts hub in central Melbourne is now one of the most iconic buildings in the city, with its striking architecture of rusted steel in a futuristic geometric design. Focused on contemporary art, in the past exhibitions by Pat Brassington and Barbara Kruger have been held here - and don't miss the famous Sapphire Vault by Ron Robertson-Swann, which is located in the forecourt.
Centre for Contemporary Photography
One of the leading photo-based art spaces in Australia, the Centre for Contemporary Photography is based in Fitzroy, Melbourne, and provides six different exhibition spaces to view the latest works of emerging and established photographers. Possibly its most fascinating gallery is the Night Projection Window, which you can view from George and Kerr Streets after dark to see artist's work on display. Since it opened in 1986, the gallery has grown into one of the country's most enjoyable spaces to view contemporary photography.
Art Gallery of Western Australia
If you're interested in Indigenous art, the Art Gallery of Western Australia is the best place to start. Since it opened in 1979, the Perth based gallery has grown to house over 17,000 works of art, including more than 3,000 Indigenous pieces. The gallery particularly emphasises Western Australian Indigenous art, with a collection that dates back from the 1820s to the 1960s. Don't miss Desert River Sea, a major new project housed here which explores Indigenous art.
National Portrait Gallery
Capital city Canberra is the home of the National Portrait Gallery, which houses a wide collection of portraiture of prominent Australians, as well as contemporary portraits from all over the world. Established in 1998, don't miss the collections highlights like Howard Arkley's portrait of Nick Cave and Ned Kelly's death mask; morbid but fascinating.
Mailbox Art Space
For fans of public art, Mailbox Art Space in central Melbourne is located in the Flinders Lane art precinct. The quirky space lends itself to experimental art and provides an unusual canvas for artists to create their work - using a series of restored mailboxes and the area surrounding the nearby Pawson House heritage building. There are no guidelines or themes suggested to the artists working on the space - and it's a fascinating example of contemporary art in action.
National Gallery of Australia
Another must see if you're visiting Canberra, the National Gallery of Australia houses one of the finest collections of art in the country. Since it was established in 1967, the gallery has grown to house over 160, 000 works. Visit here to see work by Jackson Pollock, Claude Monet and David Hockney, but also don't miss the fantastic collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
Wentworth Galleries
This Sydney based art gallery is innovative in its approach to Indigenous art. While many contemporary galleries in Australia divide their collections up into Indigenous and Western art traditions, Wentworth Galleries display them side by side - led more by the art itself and its genre then letting the category define how people view it. There are two branches of the gallery, one in the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel and the other at 1 Martin Place.
MONA, which stands for the Museum of Old and New, is the largest privately-owned art gallery in Australia. The incredible collection is home to 1,900 different works of art and is one of the most popular attractions in the town of Hobart, Tasmania. Since it opened in 2011, the collection has amassed an extremely diverse collection, with everything from Egyptian antiquities to art by David Walsh, the owner of the gallery, who describes the gallery as a “subversive adult Disneyland.” The Tasmanian gallery organizes its collection around the central, taboo themes of sex and death. When you've finished exploring the gallery, its location in the Moorilla Winery means a visit to this art museum can be finished off with a glass of local wine.


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