Australia's Best Art Galleries

Courtsey of the Art Gallery of South Australia
Courtsey of the Art Gallery of South Australia
Monique La Terra

If you’re one to enjoy gazing at gallery walls, then you must visit these 10 Australian art galleries. From revered European masterpieces to contemporary Australia portraits, Aboriginal art and everything in between these galleries hold priceless collections of art curated for public enjoyment.

Art Gallery of New South Wales

As one of the largest public galleries in Australia and the most significant in Sydney, the Art Gallery of New South Wales certainly evokes a sense of grandeur with its neoclassical Greek frontage. Inside, the collection is just as incomparable. Established in 1871, the gallery features fine art from European masters such as Vincent van Gogh, as well as Australian artists including Frederick McCubbin and John Olsen.

MONA

Described by David Walsh as a “subversive adult Disneyland,” the Museum of Old and New Art is the largest privately owned art gallery in Australia. With a collection of 1,900 works of art and counting, the gallery has become one of Hobart’s most popular attractions since opening in 2011. From Egyptian antiquities, to contemporary art from the David Walsh collection, MONA maintains a diverse collection.

National Gallery of Victoria

As you make your way through the archway and behind the wall of water to the Great Hall, you’ll get a sense of NGV’s magnitude and architectural significance. The National Gallery of Victoria is the oldest and most visited art gallery in Australia, with more than 73,000 works of art held between the main gallery and The Ian Potter Centre. Among the most notable art works is Tom Roberts‘ Shearing the Rams. NGV also hosts temporary exhibitions such Melbourne Winter Masterpieces.

National Portrait Gallery

While painted Tom Roberts proposed a national portrait gallery in the early 1900s, it wasn’t until 1998 that the collection was established in Canberra. Painting a quintessentially Australian history, the gallery holds over 400 portraits of Australia’s most influential faces including Howard Arkley’s Nick Cave, John Webber’s portrait of Captain James Cook and Barry Humphrey’s Self Portrait.

Art Gallery of South Australia

With over 38,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of South Australia holds the country’s second largest state art collection. Established in 1881, AGSA is known for its impressive collection of Indigenous Australian and colonial art as well as a significant collection of Pre-Raphaelite art and works of Heidelberg School. The gallery is also the only dedicated Islamic gallery space in Australia.

Art Gallery of Western Australia

Part of the Perth Cultural Centre, the Art Gallery of Western Australia opened in 1979. With over 17,000 works of art including 3,000 Indigenous works, the gallery places particular emphasis on Western Australian indigenous art. The gallery also a prominent collection of sculptural pieces as well as Twentieth Century Australian and British paintings.

National Gallery of Australia

Established in 1967, the National Gallery of Australia houses over 160,000 works of art encompassing Australian art, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander art, Asian art and European and American art. Located in Canberra’s parliamentary precinct, the gallery is home to work from artists such as Jackson Pollock, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and David Hockney as well as Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series.

Centre for Contemporary Photography

From humble beginnings as a not-for-profit exhibition and resource hub, the Centre for Contemporary Photography has established itself as a photo-based arts space. Located in Fitzroy, CCP features five exhibition spaces including two galley-style galleries and a Night Projection Window. The gallery showcases work from emerging and established photographic artists and often hosts festivals, lectures and master classes.

The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art

Established in 1895, The Queensland Art Gallery didn’t find a permanent home until a purpose-built facility opened on Brisbane’s South Bank in 1982. Together with its sister, the Gallery of Modern Art QAGOMA holds over 17,000 works of art including Pablo Picasso’s La Belle Hollandaise and Richard Godfrey Rivers‘s Under the Jacaranda. QAGOMA also features the Australian Cinémathèque, the only cinema space within an Australian art museum.

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

What began as an artist’s cottage in 1984, has grown into a leading contemporary art centre. ACCA has since presented hundreds of exhibitions from Australian and international contemporary artists and is focused on commissioning new work to encourage progressive conversations. The center itself is one of Melbourne’s most striking buildings, featuring a rusted steel façade in a geometric design.

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