Sydney may think it has one up on the other major Australian cities, what with being home to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but when it comes to the true cultural capital of Australia, look no further than Melbourne. Not only does the Victorian city have hidden laneways where you’ll find some of the best coffee on earth, but it also has hands-down, the coolest art galleries around, for those looking for a cultural and educational fix.
It’s no wonder, Melbourne has a thriving creative scene running through its veins, which has proven to be a huge inspiration for both residents and visitors alike and creative arts is one of the most studied subjects. Having a degree within the arts under your belt can land you your dream job in Melbourne, which will go perfectly hand-in-hand with it being one of the world’s most liveable cities.
It’s with this in mind that Melbourne is home to a fair few art galleries, each of which specialising in something unique. It’s not feasible to visit them all in one day, so if you’re visiting you’ll want to make sure you book yourself some time in the cultural capital – and stay at an ultra-cool hotel in the process – to make sure no painting, image or sculpture is left unnoticed.
In this story…
National Gallery Of Victoria
It makes sense to start right at the top of the arts scene in Melbourne, and this absolute mecca of all things art lives. Founded in 1861, The National Gallery of Victoria – or NGV – isn’t just one of the most recognised galleries in Victoria, but it is Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited art museum. It’s home to well over 70,000 pieces of artwork in a striking building which features a soaring roofline and external water wall which is a work of art in itself. The artwork inside comes from a diverse background including indigenous, colonial and contemporary art. A must-visit for any art fiend.
Address: 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, 3006
Phone: 03 8620 2222
Australian Centre For Contemporary Art
You won’t have any qualms about setting foot into the ACCA, which is a not-for-profit gallery that showcases a diverse range of exhibitions including sculpture work, video, installations, paintings and photography. Inside you’re greeted by four large gallery spaces which form an internal courtyard space with the Malthouse Theatre next door.
The building itself is a local icon with its striking rusted walls and prism design by Wood Marsh.
Address: 111 Sturt Street, Southbank, 3006
Phone: 03 9697 9999
Gertrude Contemporary has been offering space for emerging artists to display their career-defining work ever since 1983. Despite going through a few name changes along the way and relocation in 2017 has Gertrude Contemporary has consistently been a leading centre for contemporary art and ideas.
Of course, being situated in Melbourne has meant Gertrude Contemporary currently occupies a converted furniture warehouse (there’s not much more Melbourne than that) and exhibits work from both local and international artists.
Address: 21-31 High St, Preston VIC 3072
Phone: 03 9480 0068
Don’t be fooled by the university students floating around. Storey Hall is also home to RMIT’s (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) very own art gallery which showcases some of the city’s finest public art, craft, pop culture and design work. They host a selection of programs that coincide with the exhibitions on display so that visitors can get the full experience of the artist’s vision.
Address: 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 03 9925 1717
Heide Museum Of Modern Art
If you really want to make a dent in Melbourne’s expansive art trail, then take a trip outside of the CBD and pay a visit to the Heide Museum of Modern Art. The more rural location means the museum is afforded some 16 acres of land, which is used to site three exhibition buildings and a sculpture park. The owners of the former dairy farm upon which the current museum is situated have a history that is well worth looking into (we won’t regale the entire thing here) but safe to say the owners, John and Sunday Reed, were pivotal in Australia’s artistic scene.
Address: 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen, 3105
Phone: 03 9850 1500
Centre For Contemporary Photography
Photo snappers from the amateur through to the professional, meet your mecca. The Centre For Contemporary Photography exhibits photography work from artists across five spaces, and include works of contemporary fine art and indigenous photography, along with genres including portraiture, video, digital imaging and photojournalism.
The not-for-profit gallery also offers photography courses for shutterbugs who want to further their craft.
Address: 404 George Street, Fitzroy, 3065
Phone: 03 9417 1549
Scott Livesey Galleries
For an extensive experience of contemporary Australian and international art, look no further than the Scott Livesey Galleries. This exhibiting gallery hosts an ever-changing rotation of contemporary art from Australian and international artists. It’s a much more intimate space than some of the other galleries on this list so is easier to navigate, but is only open five days a week, with Monday being by appointment only.
Address: 610 High Street, Prahan, 3181
Phone: 03 9824 7770
Anna Schwartz Gallery
Anna Schwartz is a highly respected name in the local art scene so it’s not surprising to see her running her own galleries in both Sydney and Melbourne. Her Melbourne gallery features everything from striking installations, to drawings, to sculptures and anything else that captures the imagination. A must-visit destination for any real art lover. It’s truly one of the best art galleries in Melbourne, so book in a time now.
Address: 185 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 03 9654 6131
Sarah Scout Presents
Established by Vikki McInnes and Kate Barber in 2009, Sarah Scout Presents is a private art gallery showcasing renowned and emerging artists across its suite of seven rooms in the Paris-end of Collins Street.
When McInnes and Barber first looked for a gallery space, they searched for something minimalist, grey-toned space that would contrast with its lively, modern art. A place where art lovers could gather and appreciate the works of new and established artists while creating more opportunities for female artists. Make sure you stop by this gallery, as they have a vast collection of old and brand new contemporary art that pushes the boundaries and challenge the viewer’s expectations.
Address: 13/12 Collins St, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 03 9654 4429
Flinders Lane Gallery
Located in the heart of Melbourne’s laneway district, this contemporary gallery has been exhibiting some of the best visual and multi-media works since the late eighties. This dynamic gallery has a diverse selection of artwork created by the best local and international talent. From sculptures, paintings to moving image art, there’s a wide range here.
Gallery Director Claire Harris is devoted to empowering these artists while developing a long-term working relationship with each one, as she believes it ensures an intimate and insightful awareness of each artist’s practice. Harris and the team at Flinders Lane are committed to nurturing each artist and helping their career flourish in the best way possible.
Address: Level 1, The Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 03 9654 3332