Melbourne might boast about being Australia’s capital of culture, but Sydney’s contemporary art scene is nothing to be sneezed at. Visit these 10 modern art galleries to explore Sydney’s exciting array of emerging and established contemporary artists.
The MCA is Australia’s premier contemporary art gallery, and one of Sydney’s must-visit cultural attractions. The museum contains more than 4000 Australian works as well as exceptional international and domestic exhibitions, attracting more than one million visitors through its doors every year. The building itself is also a masterpiece — the grand sandstone, Art Deco marvel overlooks Circular Quay, sitting between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
Brett Whiteley (1939-92) is a giant of the Australian art scene, and his former home and studio has been managed as a museum by the Art Gallery of New South Wales since 1995. Whiteley used this converted warehouse as his workplace in the final years of his life, and today, the studio gives visitors an insight into his life and work, including a number of unfinished paintings, pieces of equipment, reference books, and a graffiti wall plastered in notes and images.
This Chippendale establishment isn’t just one of the hottest galleries in Sydney — it’s also one of the most significant collections of contemporary Chinese art anywhere on earth. Focusing on works produced in the new millennium, the four floors of this repurposed Rolls-Royce service depot are filled with 2500 horizon-expanding pieces by more than 500 artists. Hang around for a cuppa and a bite to eat at the street-level traditional Chinese teahouse, too.
The mezzanine level of Kippax St’s towering Standard House is dedicated to Michael Reid’s dynamic exhibition program of contemporary art from around Australia and across the globe, with a noticeable streak of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. The rotating collection of modern painting, photography, sculpture, print media and media art complements Michael Reid Berlin, which serves as a hub of Australian art in Europe.
This artist-run space has been supporting Sydney creatives since way back in 1989, moving from Darlinghurst to Riley St in Surry Hills in 2016. TAP bills itself as “the artists’ paradise” and is Sydney’s largest un-curated visual and performance arts venue, providing a platform for a hugely diverse number of artists and community groups over the last three decades, especially charities, the homeless and the disadvantaged.
You can’t miss this Elizabeth St institution strolling through Surry Hills — the floor-to-ceiling windows mean the gallery is highly visible to passers-by, showing off the range of artworks hanging on the walls. m2’s wide open space hosts exhibitions, pop-up stores, performances, seminars and product launches, supporting talented artists in the fields of painting, photography, illustration and sculpture.
CarriageWorks is a unique cultural centre set in the old Eveleigh Rail Yards. The large and distinct architecture allows the venue to house incredible artistic presentations, including theatre, music, dance, and an inspiring range of visual art exhibitions. One of the centre’s major focuses is helping artists develop their work through showings, residencies, and funded programs.
In the heart of Chinatown, Haymarket’s historic Corporation Building houses an organisation that helped pioneer Asian-Australian art two decades ago. 4A was founded in 1996 to foster the cultural relationship between Australia and the diverse cultures of the Asian continent. The gallery facilitates that dialogue through exhibitions, performances, conferences, seminars, cinema, workshops and of course art, with a carefully curated program of international exhibitions.
This user-friendly, easily rentable space is one of Sydney’s most democratic galleries, providing a home for emerging contemporary artists to display their works. The popular gallery is located on bustling Crown St, and every time you visit you’ll almost certainly be treated to a new exhibition of exciting modern art and design.
This gallery might be located in a heritage-listed convict home, but many of the pieces hanging on the walls are anything but old fashioned. This refined Albion St viewing space displays artworks from the 17th to the 21st centuries across every genre, including plenty of cutting-edge modern artists. Badger and Fox’s comprehensive online gallery features even more works.