Are you a museum buff or an art gallery fan? Well, museums in Melbourne have a great deal to offer and the installations are some of the best in the world. As for art galleries in Melbourne, well you only need to look at the street art to feel inspired. Once you step inside a bona fide gallery, you’ll see that this is a city that takes its art very seriously indeed.
If you’re considering Melbourne as a place to live, study or holiday, you might want to keep in mind the many different museum and art gallery attractions that make this city so popular.
How would you like to visit the largest museum in the southern hemisphere? That’s what you’ll get at the Melbourne Museum, where you can walk through a living forest, meet life-sized dinosaurs and learn about Aboriginal cultures. Located in Carlton Gardens, the museum’s centrepiece is the Forest Gallery where hundreds of live animals and plants are thriving.
There’s also the Bugs Alive! exhibition which fascinates and thrills visitors of all ages with its tiny creatures, and the immense pygmy blue whale skeleton at the other end of the scale.
The Mind and Body Gallery is devoted to the human body and features a fascinating exhibition called ‘Mind: enter the labyrinth’. There is a dedicated children’s gallery, the Evolution Gallery which delves into Charles Darwin and DNA, and the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, among other attractions. Melbourne Museum is also home to the world’s largest IMAX theatre screen which shows movies and documentaries in 3D.
Get to know Melbourne’s history by learning from the stories of those who travelled from across the globe to live there. Located in the old Customs House, the Immigration Museum houses displays and provides talks and tours to educate visitors on what it was like to arrive in Melbourne as an immigrant. Find out what life looked like in the colonial days.
Discover how indigenous Australians felt when white settlers arrived on their shores. Follow the stories of a number of families who have come to Australia, from the first European settlers to current day immigrants. Eye-opening and at times, confronting and emotional, the museum will keep you entranced for hours.
Percy Grainger was a famous composer, pianist and educator and this museum is a collection of items documenting his life and career. See his musical scores and manuscripts, diaries, photographs and artworks along with items of clothing, furniture and letters he wrote to and received from other famous folks. Grainger himself planned the museum which officially opened in 1938. It is Australia’s only autobiographical museum and well worth a visit.
Venture into one of these and explore fascinating collections of artefacts and records.
Australia’s oldest public art museum, the NGV’s collection is considered one of the world’s finest, boasting more than 73,000 works across all artistic disciplines. Go along to see valuable works from ancient civilisations as well as those from Pacific indigenous cultures as well as modern sculptures, paintings, prints, drawings, fashion and textiles, decorative arts and more.
Contemporary Australian artists featured at the NGV include Margaret Preston, Sydney Long, John Russell and Hugh Ramsay, among many others. The gallery has hosted such illustrious exhibitions as Salvador Dali’s ‘Liquid Desire’ in 2009, Monet’s Garden in 2013 and Van Gogh and the Seasons in 2017.
You can go along to the NGV on St Kilda Road and take a self-guided visit for free. Check out the stained-glass ceiling in the Great Hall. It’s the world’s largest suspended piece of stained glass and is called the Persian Rug of Light.
Works of some of the great masters – Rembrandt, Degas, Monet and Cezanne – is also on display there, as well as Egyptian and Greek artefacts. The famous Tom Roberts painting, Shearing the Rams and The Pioneer by Frederick McCubbin are popular drawcards for visitors.
The NGV is open 7 days a week.
Consisting of four large gallery spaces, ACCA is housed in a striking, architecturally designed building that resembles a rusty steel shed. Completed in 2002, the centre had commissioned more than 200 new works by both local and overseas artists in its first decade alone.
The art on display at ACCA is confronting, challenging and moving, deliberately curated to be contemplative and thought-provoking. ACCA hosts a program of talks, performances, screenings, lectures and symposia and provides a comfortable, iconic space for those interested in art to go along and learn. Entry is free and the gallery is closed on Mondays.
Set on the campus of Melbourne’s prestigious RMIT University, the gallery is situated in Storey Hall which, itself is internationally recognised as a shining example of architectural innovation. The public exhibition program introduces visitors to cutting edge visual art, sonic art, technology, popular culture, new media and art fusions.
Given the connection with the academic institution, RMIT Gallery connects art with multiple disciplines, blurring the lines between creativity and science, artistic invention and technological advancements. Entry is free and it is open Monday to Saturday.
And now for something completely different! Located in Harbour Town, Docklands, Blender Studios is one of the smallest commercial galleries in Melbourne but is complemented by a social space intended for artists to come together, create and collaborate. The studio is not open to the public however Blender does offer a street art immersion experience.
Over two and a half hours, the guide takes you on a walking tour through some of Melbourne’s most iconic streets and laneways, pointing out street art and educating participants about graffiti culture and other disciplines. You’ll be enthralled at the depth of the information shared and will no doubt find the art to be some of the best in the world.
Read more about Australian Museums & Galleries