Often referred to as Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne has a vast and vibrant array of arts venues on offer. From ancient Greek artefacts to contemporary street art, modernist sculpture to Aboriginal objects, there’s something for everyone in Melbourne’s many galleries.
1. National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria is Australia’s largest and oldest art museum. It contains more than 75,000 works of art that span multiple continents and eras, spread across two sites in Melbourne. The NGV International, located in the Melbourne Arts Precinct of Southbank, contains the non-Australian part of the collection. Big names here include Hokusai, Dali, Picasso, and Uccello among others, as well as a large collection of photography. Head over to the Ian Potter Centre nearby at Federation Square for NGV’s Australian works. Here you’ll find art from all periods in Australia’s history, including Aboriginal works and contemporary pieces. Entry is free, though you’ll have to pay for special exhibitions. You can explore the collection here.
Image Credit: @ngvmelbourne
2. Street Art
Melbourne has become internationally renowned for its street art, which can be found across the city. Graffiti icons such as Bansky have made their mark on Melbourne, while local artists ensure there’s a constantly changing display. Hotspots include Union Lane, Blender Lane, and Hosier Street, all of which are usually freshly painted. From paste-ups to full-scale murals, Melbourne has its finger on the pulse of the worldwide street art scene.
Image Credit: @visitmelbourne
3. McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park
Head to the outer suburb of Frankston to find this hidden artistic gem. Set within lush gardens, the McClelland Sculpture Park showcases over 100 works by prominent Australian sculptors. A modernist gallery space, opened in 1971, offers a rotating programme of exhibitions. There’s a great sense of exploration and discovery involved, as the sculptures are dotted around the sizeable grounds. This open-air museum is the ideal destination for those looking to soak up some sunshine as well as some culture.
Image Credit: @mcclellandgallery
4. Hellenic Museum
The Hellenic Museum is dedicated to the culture of ancient and contemporary Greece. Located within the imposing Old Royal Mint building, the museum houses hundreds of objects spanning 8,000 years of history. As well as a range of ancient and Byzantine artefacts, there’s also displays documenting Greek emigration to Australia. It continues to work with artists in both Australia and Greece to encourage the production of contemporary pieces celebrating Hellenic culture. This small but perfectly formed museum is an essential stop for those looking to uncover a lesser-known Melbourne gem.
Image Credit: @hellenic_museum
5. Koorie Heritage Trust
The Koorie Heritage Trust displays the work of the Indigenous people of south-east Australia, with a commitment to protection and preservation, The Trust is Aboriginal owned and managed, and aims to give the Koorie peoples access to their cultural heritage materials. Annual exhibitions showcase local Aboriginal artists, while handcrafted gifts can also be purchased. Displaying the rich and fascinating history of the world’s oldest continuous living culture, the Trust is an essential destination for any art lover in Melbourne.
Image Credit: @koorie_heritage_trust_inc