These Art Museums in Australia Deserve a Place on Your Bucket List
Australia may be a young nation, but it has a rich cultural history and a true treasure of museums and art galleries. Celebrating its rich cultural heritage and artistic passion, the vast wealth of museums and art galleries proliferate in all major cities. Presenting a variety of narratives and reflecting themselves as part of the colonial framework, Australian museums are engaged in a prolific era of change and development. With the multi-faceted array of activities, museums are developing the collaborative relationship with the indigenous communities and actively communicating with their visitors with innovative display practices. Offering a surplus of artistic expression from indigenous art to most contemporary practices, its museums are a major tourist attraction and its institutions dedicated to the study and exhibition of art make Australia’s art scene enthralling.
We have compiled the most diverse list of Australia’s most impressive art museums that should definitely be on a bucket list of every art lover! Without further adieu, proceed to our exciting list.
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne
As c rather than collecting them, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art is the number one space for contemporary art in Melbourne. Bringing the best international and Australian artists and creative thinkers, it provides an exciting, fee, and essential Melbourne cultural experience. The production of ambitious new artworks with living artists has generated an international acclaim. Established in 1983 and initially housed in a small cottage, it is now situated in an architectural work of art made of steel, metal and glass. The building designed by Australian architect Wood Marsh has become one of Melbourne’s most loved landmarks. It is located at 111 Sturt Street, Southbank, Victoria.
The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
First opened in 1895 with a collection of 38 pictures, 70 engravings and one marble bust, The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane is now home for the extensive collection of the twentieth and twenty-first-century artwork. It a single institution located across two adjacent riverside buildings. With over 16,000 works of historical, modern and contemporary art and dynamic program of exhibitions, the museum aims to be a leading institution for the contemporary art of Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Additionally, the museum has a Children’s Art Centre focused on making art interesting to children. Its display space is broken down with walls and barriers interchanging between the art world and the public. It is located at Stanley Place, South Brisbane, Queensland.
Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne
Located in a redesigned warehouse in the bohemian suburb of Fitzroy in Melbourne, Gertrude Contemporary is focused on the presentation, but also the production of contemporary art. Established in 1985, the museum has an impressive catalogue of renowned artists and holds regularly changing exhibitions and educational programs. Initially involved in Australian contemporary art, the gallery has included a diverse range of international works. Fostering a culture of risk, collaboration and critical-thinking to generate innovative programs initiating a creative exchange, it is valued nationally and internationally as a dynamic art centre. With an impressive list of Australia’s leading names in contemporary art, every artist who has represented Australia at the Venice Biennale since 1999 has either held a studio or an exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary. With a display across its three gallery spaces and a spacious front room, the gallery presents an enhanced viewing experience.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Established in 1967 in Canberra, the National Gallery of Australia is one of the most revered art spaces in the country. With over 160,000 works of art, it has a treasure of local and international artworks and exhibitions. The four main areas of the collection are Australian art, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Asian art and European and American Art. One of its highlights is certainly a Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan. The impressive building is designed in the late 20th-century Brutalist style with a geometry based on a triangle, and it is surrounded by vast gardens of Australian native plants and trees. It is located in Parkes ACT 2600, Canberra.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
A part of the Perth Cultural Centre and a home to the State Art Collection, the Art Gallery of Western Australia holds over 15,500 works of art and is visited by approximately 400,000 people annually. It is located in one of the most isolated cities in Australia and it focuses on art from Australia and the Indian Ocean Rim, presenting a diverse array of Western Australian indigenous and non-indigenous art. The collection includes one of the world’s finest collections of Indigenous art, the pre-eminent collection of Western Australian art and design, as well as Australian and International art and design. The museum occupies a precinct of three buildings, and a historical collection is housed in the Heritage-listed former Perth Police Courts. Inspired by the pavilions and courtyards of the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, it is designed around 120 degree angles with a cast concrete spiral staircase and spacious gallery spaces.
Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne
Located in the suburbs of Melbourne and with a history dating back to 1934, Heide Museum of Modern Art is one of the most respected houses of modern art in Australia. First starting as a farmhouse on a property purchased by John and Sunday Reed and attracting some of the most prolific figures in Australian art and culture, the museum is now located in an impressive building complex comprised of three dedicated exhibition spaces and surrounded with fifteen acres of beautiful gardens boasting eclectic selection of herbs and vegetables and a sculpture park. Exhibiting Australian modern and contemporary art from the extensive Heide Collection with a broad range of art from figurative to abstract, expressionist to realist art, the museum upholds the tradition of promoting living contemporary Australian artists. It is located at 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen, Victoria.
Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne
Established in 1986 by the photographic community, Melbourn’s Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) is one of Australia’s pre-eminent galleries for the exhibition of contemporary photography. Comprised of five spaces, the gallery showcases new and emerging artists from Australia and all around the world. Providing a detailed background and history of photography for visitors, the gallery creates an educational and enjoyable experience of contemporary photography. Additionally, the gallery organizes a number of photography courses and lectures, positioning itself at the forefront of the contemporary art practice. A special exhibition space entitled Night Projection Window is a night time window space where visitors can peek from the outside at the chosen artists. With impressive exhibitions and deep understanding of contemporary practice, CCP has played a key role in the support of photo-based arts and public engagement with photography.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Founded in 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited museum. Hosting blockbuster exhibitions and holding one of the world’s finest art collections, NGV is definitely worth a visit. Its extensive collection of more than 70,000 works ranges from antiquities from all around the world and indigenous art to international painting, sculpture and photography or Pacific and Asian art. The NGV’s collection of Australian art is housed in the Ian Potter Centre. Its yearly themed Winter Masterpieces exhibitions are widely famous and lauded. With water installations and modern and cathedral-like interior, the building itself is visually striking and stands out. It is located at 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne.
National Museum of Australia, Canberra
Located in the national capital Canberra, The National Museum of Australia preserves and interprets Australia’s social history, exploring the key issues and events that have shaped the nation. A permanent home of the museum was built in 2011 and it is a work of a renowned architect Howard Raggatt. Built in a deconstructive style and based on a theme of knotted ropes, symbolically bringing together the multitude of Australian stories and the spiritual heart of indigenous Australia, the building itself is an impressive work of art. Additionally, the museum holds the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal bark paintings and stone tools. With five permanent galleries, changing exhibitions and an innovative use of technologies, the museum offers a unique and comprehensive viewing experience where Australia’s stories come alive. Visiting this museum can take a full day or more, and it is a must-see place for visitors from all around the world. It is located at Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula in Canberra.
Museum of New and Old Art, Hobart
The Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart (MONA) is Australia’s largest private museum and probably the most controversial private collection of modern and contemporary art and antiquities in the world. Described as ‘a subversive adult Disneyland’ by the millionaire David Walsh who owns it, the collection ranges from Egyptian mummies to most contemporary provocative art. Notable works amongst 400 artworks from Walsh’s collection are Snake by Sidney Nolan, Cloaca Professional by Wim Delvoye, and The Holy Virgin Mary by Chris Ofili. Built in 2011, it has soon transformed the Tasmanian city Hobart into a major tourist attraction. Located within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula and dominated by its surroundings on the outside, the majority of the museum building is underground with levels of labyrinthine display spaces. The state-of-the-art exterior and interior of the building itself extends and magnifies into the viewing experience. It is located at 655 Main Road Berriedale in Hobart, Tasmania.