Adelaide is not only about wineries and churches. There is a cultural side that attracts hordes of people from all over the world. The city’s art galleries and museums have lots to offer and even the locals frequent them for the excellent exhibitions.
When considering Adelaide as a place to live, study or holiday, you might like to consider these fabulous attractions as places to go and things to see that will stay in your mind for many years to come.
If you’re the type of person who loves to inspect old buildings and look at ancient relics, there are plenty of museums in Adelaide to whet your appetite.
- South Australian Museum – If you’re keen to see Aboriginal Australian artefacts, this is the spot for you. The South Australian Museum’s collection is the largest on earth! A natural history museum, it features some incredible relics such as the rare fossil of a giant leaf-eating kangaroo. The palaeontology department boasts an inventory of around 50,000 fossil specimens and sub-fossils (skeletal remains not old enough to be ‘true’ fossils). There are plenty of interactive exhibits for kids to enjoy and some weird and wonderful items of intrigue. Check out the confiscated monkey head jewellery! Prepare to spend hours and expect to be side tracked as more and more displays catch your eye and draw you closer. Open 10am to 5pm every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday.
- Migration Museum – The building used to be a Destitute Asylum where the poorest of the poor would live, out of sight of the community’s more ‘respectable’ citizens. It was a feared and unpleasant place in the extreme from 1852-1918. It was later used by the SA Government Department of Chemistry. Now a social history museum, the site provides a glimpse into the immigration history of South Australia. It also covers the poor treatment of native Australians and the impact that migrants had on them, including smallpox. Considered “raw and honest”, the Migration Museum is at times confronting and always thought-provoking. Open 10am to 5pm daily except Christmas Day.
- Ayers House Museum – Said to be “Adelaide’s finest Victorian era home”, Ayers House Museum has been painstakingly restored to its nineteenth century grandeur. What started out as a tiny cottage evolved over the years into a brick house with nine rooms under chemist William Paxton. When he returned to Britain, businessman Henry Ayers signed a lease from Paxton to live in the house. Ayers extended the house in numerous stages until it became a 40-room property over two acres. It boasted some of the finest furnishings of the day. Since Ayers’ death, the house became a pleasure resort, a club for returned soldiers and a nurses’ residence and training school. Today, it serves the public as a magnificent reminder of opulent days gone by. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
- South Australian Maritime Museum – Visit the state’s nautical history at the South Australian Maritime Museum which is set over three levels of fascinating hands-on exhibits. Quite the sensory experience, the sound system pipes through atmospheric sounds like the creaks of wooden ships, the whistle of the wind and the sound of horses trotting over cobblestones. Learn about life as a shipwright or sailor. See the fine work of ship-building craftsmen. Find out what it was like aboard a ship for the British as they set out for a new life in Australia in the early 1800s. Check out the Port Adelaide lighthouse and wharf when you go outside and bask in the sunshine. Open every day from 10am to 5pm, except Good Friday and Christmas Day.
- National Railway Museum – Train fans will adore the National Railway Museum with its over 100 exhibits surrounding the state, national and private railway operators. Marvel at the giant steam engines, explore the first-class sleeper car and pore over the railway memorabilia. There are tons of things to see and do and the kids will absolutely love the push and pull interactivity throughout with levers, buttons and bells they can play with. The whole family can go on the free train ride around the museum. There are lots of fun things to purchase in the shop such as DVDs, souvenirs, toys and books. Open daily from 10am to 4.30pm.
Looking for some visual stimuli of the artistic kind? Drop by one of the diverse galleries in Adelaide for a taste of art in a range of flavours.
- Art Gallery of South Australia – With one of the country’s finest collections of Australian and overseas art, the gallery is a must-see for art lovers. The sumptuous parquetry floors are almost an artwork in themselves but spend a few hours wandering around with eyes peeled. Fans of sculptor Rodin will be in seventh heaven with not one, not two but twenty bronze Rodin sculptures on permanent display! The gallery’s collection numbers close to 40,000 works across prints, paintings, photographs, textiles, drawings, glass, metalwork, ceramics, furniture and jewellery. Open from 9am to 4.30pm every day of the year except Christmas Day, the Art Gallery of SA is also open until 9pm on the first Friday of every month.
- ACE Open Art Gallery – This contemporary art gallery will capture your imagination before you even step inside. The comical representations of yellow paint pouring out the windows is all part of the fun. ACE Open Art Gallery promisese “transformative contemporary art experiences for artists and audiences”. Open 11am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday.
- Samstag Museum of Art – The imposing exterior of the Anne and Gordon Samstag Museum of Art is the first clue that this is a modern and formal place. Its aim is to stimulate and challenge audiences with an ever-changing program of innovative exhibitions. Expect to see photos, costumes, sculptures, paintings, video presentations and more. Open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday and 12pm to 5pm Saturdays.
- Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute – Australia’s oldest Aboriginal-owned and operated arts centre, Tandanya is an art museum that combines visual art, storytelling and music. You can walk through on your own or take a guided tour. Open 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and closed on public holidays.
Read more about Australian Museums & Galleries