Most visitors to Hobart will venture to MONA, the innovative Museum of Old and New Art. But this is just one of many fantastic art galleries in the Tasmanian capital. Keep reading to discover the 10 best contemporary art galleries to visit in the city.
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is the southern hemisphere’s largest privately funded museum, with its entire collection valued over 100 million Australian dollars (£53 million). It features contemporary art from owner David Walsh’s private collection, who has called it a “subversive adult Disneyland”. MONA is home to interesting works such as Untitled (bowl & fish) and Monkey Skeleton, which Walsh apparently bought when he was drunk. There are no labels on the walls at MONA; instead, there’s the O, a device that allows visitors to read about the art on display and listen to artist interviews. You can pick it up at the museum or download it as an app.
The Despard Gallery displays contemporary work from various Australian artists. It features both solo and group exhibitions, with past highlights including Time Traveller by Melbourne-based artist Michael Vale, and The Wanderer, The Fool and The Refuge by local artist Jo Chew. Despard Gallery has a partnership with Hobart’s State Cinema as well, showcasing original artwork from local and interstate artists throughout the cinema.
Located on historic Salamanca Place, Colville Gallery specialises in modern fine art by Tasmanian and Australian artists. Displayed work includes paintings, photography and sculptures, which are featured in the gallery’s annual curated exhibitions. Colville Gallery is also proud to promote its artists through participation in national art events and fairs, as well as at its own fine art auctions. The gallery established the Lloyd Rees Art Prize in 2013, which is a biannual prize awarded to works depicting the Australian landscape.
Housed in the Salamanca Arts Centre, Inka Gallery is a non-profit and artist-run initiative that features work from both emerging and award-winning independent Tasmanian contemporary artists. For more than 16 years, the gallery’s annual exhibition programme has showcased works that employ a range of different mediums. Fortunately for those not based in Hobart, the gallery ships pieces worldwide.
Salamanca Arts Centre is home to several venues, where emerging local artists can hold exhibitions for month-long periods. There’s the Top Gallery, an intimate space with limewashed stone walls and exposed beams, while the Lightbox is a small window space that’s available for special exhibitions that are visible to the public all day, every day. Meanwhile, Kelly’s Garden is a courtyard that’s perfect for works by contemporary sculptors and installation artists. Salamanca Arts Centre is a must-visit for any art lover.
In a former life, Nolan Art’s workspace used to be a part of a whaling warehouse, but today, it describes itself as “an art gallery with a difference”. Nolan Art features exhibitions from contemporary Tasmanian artists, including painters, photographers, jewellers, sculptors and printers. Private tuition is available at Nolan Art, as well as art parties and workshops for both children and adults.
Since opening a decade ago, Art Mob has displayed work and collections from a number of established and emerging Aboriginal artists from across Australia. A past exhibition, Stories From my Heart – Which Way, featured work from various Lockhart River artists. The team at this gallery are passionate about Aboriginal fine art and its diversity and have described it as a “life-changing experience”.
As one of Australia’s foremost contemporary art galleries, Bett Gallery represents both leading and young emerging Australian artists. Established in 1986, the gallery exhibits a range of mediums, including paintings, jewellery, prints, photographs, ceramics and sculptures. It has also successfully developed and managed more than 20 art collecting groups that currently operate across Australia.
Plimsoll Gallery’s aim is “to position Tasmanian contemporary art and design within the broader national and international context”. Located on the waterfront at the University of Tasmania’s School of Creative Arts, it features curated exhibitions from local, national and international contemporary artists. It also displays work from students, including MFA and PhD examination exhibitions.
Contemporary Art Tasmania (CAT) has an annual programme of visual art exhibitions, focussing on innovation, energy and excellence. The organisation aims to support and develop Tasmanian contemporary artists through exhibits, mentorship opportunities and studio spaces. CAT also hosts public programmes designed to educate audiences in experimental art.