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Galleries & public art

Galleries & public art

Victoria's galleries are home to a vast collection of both historic and contemporary works. They range from large public galleries to smaller private galleries and outdoor public art sites.

Art and galleries in Melbourne and surrounding suburbs

National Gallery of Victoria -
The iconic art establishment has its main centre located on St Kilda Road at Southbank. It features international works and offers an eclectic array of interesting and diverse art pieces. It has a permanent collection including works by Turner, Modigliani, Medici and many more. It often has photography exhibitions and inspirational niche exhibitions, ranging from fashion to sculpture, historical exhibitions and art installations which combine images and sound. A secondary premises is located at nearby Federation Square and is known as the Ian Potter Centre. It concentrates on Australian art, with an interesting indigenous section, and often exhibits student work from around Victoria. There is a wonderful "Kids Corner" with activities and art installations designed for children.

ArtPlay -
ArtPlay is located behind Federation Square and encompasses the fantastic Birrarung Marr Playground on the north bank of the Yarra River in Melbourne. It's always open, it's free, and it features painted walkways and equipment. ArtPlay has regular art workshops, in which children get to assist in "decorating" the playground. ArtPlay encourages and supports children in cultural pursuits and learning.

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art -
Housed in the Ngargee Arts Centre (pronounced na-jee which is Aboriginal for "dance" or "festival"), at Southbank, this centre is one of Melbourne's best loved art destinations. Not least because entry is always free! The iconic arts building is itself a tribute to contemporary art, being something of an architectural sculpture. Its exterior is of rusty steel, and is juxtaposed with a shiny metal and glass foyer. There are four galleries of simple design and the building, in a way, pays homage to the warehouses that used to occupy the site. Its exhibitions range from the weird to the wonderful and from the diverse to the devious, but always thought provoking.

Australian Centre for the Moving Image -
Located at Federation Square in Melbourne, entry to the centre itself is free, as is the main, permanent exhibition "Screen Worlds". It's a story of film, television and digital culture and Australia's participation in that story. Some screenings and particular exhibitions attract admission fees.

Docklands Public Art Walk -
Discover one of Australia's most extensive outdoor public art sites by strolling through Melbourne's Docklands precinct which overlooks Victoria Harbour and the Yarra River. There are over 30 items of artwork which have been inspired by themes of land and water, indigenous history and Melbourne's industrial and maritime past. See iconic works such as "Cow Up A Tree", "Eagle", "Blowhole" and "Car Nuggets".

Heide Museum of Modern Art -
This art museum is located at Bulleen, 15 kilometres north-east of Melbourne's city centre. Showcasing a wide array of contemporary art displays, the museum serves up an annual smorgasbord of exhibits arranged by emerging artists across Victoria including pottery, poetry and paintings. It has 6 hectares of buildings and gardens to explore and includes a cafe, sculpture garden, orange groves and a Victorian farmhouse.

Sand Sculpting Australia -
The Frankston Waterfront precinct has been the home of Sand Sculpting Australia's annual exhibition of sand sculptures. A heavy "brickies" sand is used which sticks together much better than beach sand, and the finished works are then sprayed with a clear protective sealant. The four month exhibition features a different theme each year, with past displays being "Fairytales & Fables", "Dinostory", "Great Moments in History" and "Creepy Crawlies".

Walker Street Gallery -
Dandenong, located south-east of the city, is home to a burgeoning arts and cultural scene with a very pro-active council. The Walker Street Gallery exhibits a diverse range of works from leading Australian artists.

Art and galleries in regional areas of Victoria

Geelong, Victoria's second largest city, offers a range of art and cultural experiences for visitors. The National Wool Museum displays the history of Australian sheep farming and shearing, and is housed in an old bluestone wool-store in Geelong's burgeoning waterfront precinct. There are four galleries, shearing displays, a woollen clothing shop and a licensed restaurant. Take an artistic stroll on the Baywalk Bollards Walk. Artist Jan Mitchell has created over a hundred wooden sculptures based on the colourful characters of Geelong's past. The Bollards are situated on the Corio Bay path between Rippleside Park and Limeburners Point.

The city of Ballarat, famous for its origins as a gold mining town, is known for its cultural heritage. There are several galleries including the Ballarat Art Gallery which houses some of the best collections in Australia, including the Crouch Manuscript Collection - fine medieval illuminated texts from 12th to 16th century Europe. The story of Eureka, a mass rebellion by gold miners, has gripped the imagination of Australians over the years and has been transformed into film, art and theatre which can be explored at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. Ballarat's thriving Aboriginal arts scene can be discovered at the Ballarat & District Co-operative Cultural Education Centre. It houses a small museum displaying artefacts of historical significance, exhibitions, a gift shop, and educational facilities.

The Macedon Ranges have an artistic community and there are many studios including painting, sculpture and ceramics, and silver-smithing. Most towns have galleries, and there are plentiful craft shops.

Within easy reach of Melbourne is the wonderfully scenic Dandenong Ranges. The mountain villages are home to a diverse group of artists and the area has a distinct alternative feel. There are many galleries, craft shops and historic buildings. William Rickets Sanctuary (originally called "Potter's Sanctuary") is a magical place at Mount Dandenong that consists of a special garden filled with half hidden sculptures amongst the fern trees and rockeries. It has a wonderful history, and is a much-loved Victorian treasure. The Sherbrooke Art Society in Belgrave exhibits local artists and promotes open studios.

Not far beyond the Dandenongs is the Yarra Valley, a scenic area known for its wine tasting, but where you can gaze at some good art as you ponder the pinot in your glass, at the cellar door. What more could you want? Jazz, or a little light quartet? That's possible too. Yering Station is one such place. Not only is it a leading winery, but also has a wonderful gallery, and is home of the increasingly reputable Yering Station Sculpture Exhibition and Awards held each spring. The grounds themselves are home to many creative installations. The Yarra Valley Arts Council holds regular events and exhibitions which aim to enhance the cultural lives of visitors to the area.

The Great Ocean Road is not only an area of great natural beauty, but also provides a significant artistic and cultural presence located mostly within the attractive seaside towns along the way. The Lorne Sculpture Exhibition adorns the foreshore of the surf beach in Lorne with striking works from late October to early November.