It’s no secret that Perth’s balmy climate tends more towards hot than cool. Fortunately, museums and art galleries are usually cool, quiet places to go so they offer a welcome respite from the elements.
Once there, the visual stimulation is exceptional and, depending on which you visit, could put you in front of world-famous art works or record-breaking achievements. If you love art and educational exhibits and you’re trying to choose a city to live, study or holiday in, you should definitely consider Perth on your shortlist.
Pick a theme – dinosaurs, the ocean, science, medicine, the olden days – there are museums in Perth that cater for a range of tastes.
- Western Australian Museum – The state’s major museum is closed until 2020 while the brand new facility is under construction. Be sure to check the website for updates before going along.
- WA Maritime Museum – Go along to check out the many exhibits surrounding Western Australia’s maritime history. You can actually see the Australia II, the yacht that earned itself a page in history when it won the 1983 America’s Cup trophy. You can even go aboard the HMAS Ovens, an Oberon class submarine for a guided tour. Venture underwater in a virtual experience where you’ll see rare marine specimens. You’ll also find the Cargoes Gallery thoroughly fascinating as it exhibits the vast array of trade goods that have made their way through WA’s busy ports. The WA Maritime Museum is pen 9.30am to 5pm every day except major public holidays.
- Perth Mint – Can you imagine a magnificent one tonne gold coin? It’s the world’s largest gold bullion coin, is composed of 99.99% pure gold and is actually legal Australian tender! Worth an estimated AUD $50 million, it’s a must-see at the Perth Mint. Feast your eyes on an official gold pour where pure gold is heated to blistering temperatures then transformed into a dazzling solid gold bullion. If you want to extend your tour beyond the walls of the Mint, you can take a Mine to Mint day tour which takes you to a working gold mine 130 kilometres from Perth and ends back at the Perth Mint. Open 7 days from 9am to 5pm.
- Scitech Discovery Centre – Explore the wonders of our planet and the greater universe at Scitech. Kids and kids at heart will love the interactive exhibits and games! Learn how electricity is made, play Mindball, get into augmented reality and watch a puppet show. Don’t miss the planetarium, an extraordinary 180-degree dome kitted out with laser projection and surround sound. Sit back, relax and enjoy learning about the solar system, constellations and more. You’ll come away buzzing with a head full of incredible facts. Suitable for all ages, Scitech is open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
- Western Australian Medical Museum – Smaller in scale but jam-packed with a huge assortment of exhibits is the WA Medical Museum in the grounds of King Edward Memorial Hospital, Subiaco. Go inside an olden day operating theatre, check out the iron lung and discover weird and sometimes unpleasant medical treatments. Displays feature early pharmaceuticals, early hospital equipment, Aboriginal medicine, the Royal Flying Doctor service and wartime nursing. Open on Wednesdays from 10.30am to 4pm and the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month from 2pm to 4pm.
- Royal Western Australian Historical Society – Tucked away in Nedlands is the Society’s Museum which boasts thousands of items relating to life in WA. Go along to see artworks, costumes, domestic items, tools, toys, dolls and other relics, many donated by individuals. Open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday except public holidays.
Art is, of course, subjective. Some people prefer their art safe, traditional and unsurprising whereas others like art that challenges social expectations. It can be fun to visit galleries in Perth that don’t match your usual tastes, because you never know what you may find!
- Art Gallery WA – Take a guided tour of the state’s major art gallery and you’ll be welcomed into the world of art, even if you are new to galleries. The collection boasts some impressive works by famous Australian artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Arthur Streeton. See beautiful Indigenous art including bark paintings and sculptures. Major modernist works by Australian and British artists and pre-1900 Australian paintings and watercolours are all at Art Gallery WA Visiting exhibitions change on a regular basis so be sure to check the program before going along. Open Wednesday to Monday 10am to 5pm and closed on major public holidays.
- Gallows Gallery – A small, privately run gallery in suburban Mosman Park, Gallows Gallery represents some of the country’s most successful and well-known artists. Purchase something special and take home a precious work of art that means a lot to you. Open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 4.30pm, Saturday 12pm to 5pm and Sunday 2pm to 5pm.
- Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts – Visit PICA for visual, performance and interdisciplinary art from Australia and overseas. The exhibits are unlike what you would find in a traditional gallery; many are challenging, edgy and intriguing. Take a look at the program of events as there is always something new happening. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm.
- Fremantle Arts Centre – Just half an hour’s drive out of Perth, the Fremantle Arts Centre was once a ‘lunatic asylum; in convict days. Today, it is a highly regarded arts hub with a stunning exhibition space, a café and art workshops. It’s where you’ll find the City of Fremantle Art Collection, the state’s largest municipal collection with more than 1,400 pieces across paintings, photographs, ceramics and prints by local artists, including Indigenous. Admire the Gothic architecture of the building which was constructed using convict labour in the 1860s. It’s said to be haunted by a ghost! Open 7 days from 10am to 5pm.