If you’re a fan of our blog you won’t be surprised to hear that there is much more to Australia than surf, beer and barbeques! Our picturesque coastline (and interior) is scattered with dozens of amazing art centres, spaces and galleries, a veritable feast for the art – and travel – lover.
For a different tour of Australia, why not focus your travel down under on Oz’s thriving art scene? Australia has undergone an art boom in the past decade and some of worlds most respected contemporary art centres are now happily hosted by our land down under.
From Melbourne to Sydney, from Adelaide to Canberra, from Brisbane to Cairns, here is our list of must-visit art galleries Australia today, with a focus on contemporary art. Why not use this as a starting point to develop your art-inspired travel itinerary of Australia, you culture vulture you?!
1. Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne
Part art commune, part atelier, part gallery space, Heide shows that Melbourne is a high-level cosmopolitan city. The core of the museum’s Collection was assembled over five decades by Heide founders John and Sunday Reed who collected a broad range of art from figurative to abstract, expressionist to realist.
2. Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Adelaide
Adelaide has plenty of museums but the first name in contemporary art is the CAC of South Australia. The organisation publishes the influential Contemporary Visual Arts and Culture Broadsheet quarterly, currently in its 40th year of publication.
3. Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, or GOMA, is a design-forward depot of contemporary art by Architectus and describes itself as Queenslands premier visual arts institution. The Gallery is part of the Queensland Cultural Centre.
4. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
As Australia’s largest art museum, the National Gallery’s modern collection is impressive and includes seminal works by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, David Hockney and Lucian Freud.
5. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Founded in 1861, it is the oldest public art museum in Australia. The NGV’s Australian art collection encompasses Indigenous (Australian Aboriginal) art and artefacts, Australian colonial art, Australian Impressionist art, 20th century, modern and contemporary Australian art.
6. Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne
Housed in a vast converted warehouse in the suburb of Fitzroy, Gertrude Contemporary was opened in 1985 and is centred around not only the presentation and exhibiting of contemporary art but the creation of it as well.
7. Nellie Castan Gallery
This highly respected gallery is interested in not only new contemporary artists but those who are established to a certain degree, past exhibitions displayed a very diverse and wonderfully experimental group of works.
8. Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne
This not-for-profit organisation consists of five spaces showcasing the most current and up-to-date photography of the time, including Australian and International works from both new and established artists.
9. Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns
The permanent collection at this gallery can be described as experimental, with multi-media sculptures and wall-art by the territory’s indigenous population reflecting the consciousness of northern Queensland.
10. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
The gallery’s permanent collection is world-class, with expansive rooms again showcasing highly varied artworks from indigenous, Australian, Asian and Pacific bark paintings, weaving and sculpture to contemporary and Western installations, photography and oil paintings.
If you have the art bug but can’t physically make it to one of these museums, there are some great websites to check out – we love these vintage bally posters on Picturestore.