Explore your world
Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

The Best 2016 Exhibitions In Melbourne, Australia

Picture of Monique La Terra
Updated: 7 November 2016
Victoria is packed with world-class museums and galleries, and this year some of the most comprehensive and thrilling exhibitions have premiered in Melbourne and Bendigo. A sizzling screen siren, a master of Impressionism, Australian fashion history, some Angry Penguins, a Melbourne-based sculptor, an awe-inspiring film series, an intense filmmaker… Melbourne has showcased globally-recognized exhibitions all year long.


Marilyn Monroe at Bendigo Art Gallery

Norma Jeane Baker was an ordinary name belonging to a brunette from Los Angeles, but in August 1946, the pin-up model came to be known as Marilyn Monroe — a name which has stood the test of time. On the eve of what would have been her 90th birthday, Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox presented a celebration of this screen legend. This assemblage of artifacts, costumes, photographs, and personal belongings made their Australian debut, offering a glimpse into her private life; from the pages of a high school yearbook, personal film scripts, and makeup that still contains the imprints of fingers.

42 View St, Bendigo VIC, Australia +61 03 5434 6088

Marilyn Monroe | Courtesy of Bendigo Art Gallery

Marilyn Monroe | Courtesy of Bendigo Art Gallery

Making History: The Angry Penguins at the Heide Museum of Modern Art

From humble beginnings as a family home, the Heide Museum of Modern Art has become one of Melbourne’s premiere cultural institutions. Making History was a semi-permanent exhibition celebrating the impact that John and Sunday Reed had in the progression of the Australian art scene from the 1930s to the 1980s. To be located in the original farmhouse, Heide I, Making History made an ever-changing exhibit in direct response to the public’s fascination with Heide’s history. The exhibition opened with the work of The Angry Penguins. Taking their name from the Surrealist magazine published by Max Harris, The Angry Penguins were a group of artists who explored Surrealism and expressionism and are now highly regarded by Australian art historians. Key works include Butterfly Man by Arthur Boyd and The Futile City by Albert Tucker.

7 Templestowe Rd, Manningham VIC, Australia +61 03 9850 1500

Angry Penguins | Courtesy of Heidi Museum of Modern Art

Arthur Boyd, Butterfly Man, 1943 | Courtesy of Heide Museum of Modern Art

Degas: A New Vision at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Winter Masterpieces

The National Gallery of Victoria’s Winter Masterpieces has attracted millions of visitors since 2004, and Degas: A New Vision, drew crowds from across the country. Principal curator Henri Loyrette, former director of the Musée du Louvre in Paris brought together a collection of more than 200 pieces from 41 cities worldwide in the hope of broadening the public’s understanding of Edgar Degas as not only a master of French Impressionism but as a student of printmaking, monotypes, sculpture, and photography. Organized thematically, the exhibition explored the subjects Degas held most dear including ballet, 19th century Parisian nightlife, women at work, nude art, and horse racing before investigating his creative leap into additional media.

180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC, Australia +61 03 8620 2222

Degas: A New Vision | Courtesy of NGV

Degas: A New Vision | Courtesy of NGV

Jurassic World: The Exhibition at the Melbourne Museum

On the 19th of of March, the gates to Isla Nublar opened, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with seemingly real dinosaurs in Jurassic World: The Exhibition. Visitors dropped in on The Hammond Creation Lab to see dino DNA in action before meeting their favorite toothy carnivores, including Indominus Rex. They heard the spine-tingling rumble of a Tyrannosaurus Rex roar, casting their eyes upward to the seven-meter-tall Brachiosaurus. Jurassic World is one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and the franchise has made over $3 billion dollars. Jurassic World offered visitors the opportunity to throw themselves straight into the action.

11 Nicholson St, Carlton VIC, Australia +61 03 8341 7777


200 Years of Australian Fashion at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV

Have you ever wondered what 200 years of Australian fashion history looks like? At “the first major survey of Australian fashion,” visitors saw how Australia’s fashion identity has evolved since settlement and the ways in which it has been influenced by Australia’s unique geography and culture. Over 120 pieces from more than 90 designers — including Dion Lee, Ellery, Romance Was Born, and Toni Maticevski — were on display next to historical garments from every era in four galleries. The exhibition also showcased illustrated catalogues, photographs, interviews, and more, giving visitors a rounded view of Australian fashion.

Federation Square, Flinders St & Russell St, Melbourne VIC, Australia +61 03 8662 1543

200 Years of Australian Fashion | Courtesy of NGV

200 Years of Australian Fashion | Courtesy of NGV

Scorsese at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square is providing a comprehensive look into the life of Martin Scorsese. Scorsese’s gritty filmography spans six decades and includes Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Aviator, The Departed, and The Wolf of Wall Street, among others. He has also directed documentaries, short films, TV shows (including Boardwalk Empire), and the 18-minute-long music video for Michael Jackson’s 1987 hit, Bad. ACMI showcased an exhibition dedicated to Scorsese, thoroughly curated by Berlin’s Deutsche Kinemathek. ACMI played home to over 600 objects, including personally notated film scripts, unpublished production stills, storyboards, photos, and costumes from films including Taxi Driver and Mean Streets.

ACMI Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne VIC, Australia +61 03 8663 2200

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of ACMI

Bruce Armstrong: an anthology of strange creatures at NGV

Renowned sculptor Bruce Armstrong is known for his totemic figures; you may recognise Eagle, which stands 23 meters tall in the Docklands, and now a major survey of his work is coming to NGV. Bruce Armstrong: an anthology of strange creatures will include work from the 1980s to the present day and will feature his enduring fascination with mythological beings. Curated from both private and public collections, the exhibition will demonstrate the relationship between sculpture and architectural design and showcase the commanding presence of Armstrong’s work.

180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC, Australia +61 03 8620 2222