National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory © Tourism Australia
6 of the best modern art galleries in Australia
Are you a fan of contemporary art? Here are six Australian galleries you really need to visit.
The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is internationally recognised for its collection of contemporary art from Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Every three years, the renowned Asia Pacific Triennial exhibition showcases some of the most exciting contemporary art from the region. It’s just a short walk from the museum to Brisbane’s buzzing South Bank. This riverside neighbourhood is home to leading cultural institutions, parks, markets and even a city beach.
Right on Sydney Harbour sits the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (better known as the MCA). The MCA celebrates living artists through exhibitions and its permanent collection of 4,000 works, but it also has a sense of history; its buildings are on the site where Australia’s first Europeans landed in 1788. The MCA also has a strong commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contemporary art. The permanent work Warrang, by Brook Andrew, greets you as you enter.
It’s weird, wonderful and essential to visit when travelling to Hobart. The experience starts with a 25-minute ferry ride on seats that look like sheep. And things become even more bizarre as you explore the museum. The bold Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) has been dividing opinions – but largely earning rave reviews – since the day it opened in 2011. There are no labels on the artworks in Mona’s subterranean world, but you’re sure to find art that intrigues and challenges you.
Located in Melbourne and dating back to 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is Australia’s oldest art museum. It boasts more than 75,000 objects in its collection, including a magnificent selection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. The gallery is known for hosting blockbuster exhibitions and also offers a program of events covering everything from contemporary art and design to fashion, sound and performance.
In Australia’s capital city of Canberra, the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is home to a permanent collection of approximately 160,000 works, from the surrealism of René Magritte to the pop art of Andy Warhol. You’ll find works by Jackson Pollock (including his masterpiece ‘Blue poles’), Henri Matisse and James Turrell. Head outside to the sculpture garden and leave plenty of time to explore the vast collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works.
The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) has been on its current site in Adelaide since 1900. Now, its increasingly impressive collection boasts 45,000 pieces and spans 2,000 years. The 20th-century modernist art collection, which focuses on works by female artists, is a highlight. Exploring the gallery, you’ll find works by Australian greats, including Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd, and stunning contemporary Asian art.