What do you do when it’s cold and rainy? What about when it’s hot and steamy? Go to an art gallery, of course. They’re indoors, they’re appropriately heated or cooled, and they’re here to bulk up that squishy noggin of yours with something else other than Insta-story drivel. Triple win.
Plus, if you live in Melbourne, it means you live close to some of the best galleries our great nation has to offer. So, in the spirit of Urban List Art Month, here’s our round-up of some of the best galleries in Melbourne you can feast your eyes on when you’re starving for some culture.
National Gallery Of Victoria
Let’s get this one out of the way early. If you live in Melbourne and haven’t been to the NGV yet, I’m pretty sure you have to forfeit your Victorian residence and move to the moon. NGV boasts some of Australia’s best exhibitions, as well as an impressive permanent collection, so you know a day at the NGV is a day well spent.
Centre for Contemporary Photography
Supporting innovative photographers since 1986, this non-profit gallery is considered Fitzroy's premier exhibition space. In an unassuming white building lies a world of constant wonder; upon entering, the CCP space is much larger than its modest exterior suggests. With regularly updated shows, you can spend hours perusing photo-based arts from emerging to established artists from all eras and genres.
More of an educational institution for the visually-enthused, Gertrude Contemporary has played an important role in inspiring the evolution of contemporary art, both at home and overseas. Offering exhibition, studio and cultural exchange programs, visitors can expect acclaimed artists across three gallery spaces. Opened in 1983, the gallery is comprised of sixteen non-resident artists, and one resident studio for international guests. Gertrude Contemporary focuses on art as a collaborative collection of curators, writers, cultural partners and patrons. If you're looking for an education in contemporary art, make this your next stop.
Art Yarramunua Gallery
Located in the heart of St Kilda, Art Yarramunua Gallery is owned by Stan Yarramunua and contains an impressive collection of art by Aboriginal artists. All paintings have either been painted by Stan himself or purchased from his ancestors from the Central Desert region of Australia, so are 100% authentic.
Anna Schwartz Gallery
The Anna Schwartz Gallery has been owned and operated by founder Anna Schwartz since 1986 and represents over thirty established and emerging artists and works on individual projects with artists and curators globally. 2019 exhibitions included world-renowned photographer Taryn Smith, multidisciplinary artist Daniel von Sturmer and is currently showing Emily Floyd’s anti-totalitarian Vectors.
Grau Projekt is a 1050-square metre space that has become a stunning hub for local and international contemporary art. But there’s a delicious twist: alongside every monthly installation comes a curated five-drink menu that reflects the exhibition’s overarching theme. Best part? Drinks are made by owner and mixologist extraordinaire Matt Bax himself.
Established in Melbourne in 1983, ACCA develops exhibitions exploring the ideas and work of significant artists from around the world, commissions ambitious new works by local and international artists, and delivers a range of curatorial, education and public programs including talks, lectures, symposia, performances, screenings, music and events. It’s definitely a must if you haven’t been yet.
Amagoa Aboriginal Modern Art Gallery of Australia
The Aboriginal Modern Art Gallery of Australia (AMAGOA) specialises in art consultation, advice and the curation of private and corporate collections. They’re able to source beautiful, high-quality artworks of specifically requested Aboriginal artists from across Australia, following the Aboriginal Art Association of Australia's Code of Conduct. You can also purchase, rent or lease artworks.
Linden New Art
Linden New Art is a unique not-for-profit contemporary art gallery in the heart of St Kilda. Housed in a Victorian mansion, Linden’s grand domestic building makes it a unique place to see, explore and discuss contemporary art. Linden’s annual exhibition program features work from artists across Australia and overseas, with exhibitions changing every eight weeks.
Heide Museum of Modern Art
Heide Museum of Modern Art is a unique combination of art, architecture, social history and landscape. Established in 1981, Heide houses modern and contemporary art across three distinct exhibition buildings and is set within sixteen acres of heritage-listed gardens and a sculpture park. The museum occupies the site of a former dairy farm owned by prominent arts benefactors John and Sunday Reed and was the gathering place for the Heide Circle (which included Sidney Nolan, John Perceval, Albert Tucker and Joy Hester).
Established in 1967, Tolarno Galleries has been at the cutting edge of contemporary Australian art for over 50 years. With a reputation for showing fresh, often young artists, Tolarno Galleries has shown some of Australia’s – and the world’s—best-known artists, including Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Warhol and Koons. The exhibition program attracts the attention of collectors, curators and critics from around the globe.
A fresh one on the museum scene, Buxton Contemporary opened in 2018 at the University of Melbourne’s art school, the Victorian College of the Arts. Designed by renowned architects Fender Katsalidis, the museum is comprised of four public exhibition galleries, teaching facilities, and the largest outdoor screen in Australia dedicated to the display of moving image art.
RMIT Gallery is the University's premier exhibition space. The public exhibition program delivers distinctive visual art, new media, sonic art, design, popular culture, technology, and art fusions across five museum-standard galleries. The RMIT exhibitions promote deeper interactions between RMIT and a global public audience, and rightly so—you can definitely catch some pretty cool stuff.
Mailbox Art Space
A very non-traditional gallery, Mailbox Art Space is exactly what it sounds like: it’s an alternative public art space that supports artistic experimentation and the exhibition of new work in small mailboxes with glass panels. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s Flinders Lane arts precinct, artists are invited to create site-specific work for a series of restored mailboxes and the surrounding area of the historic Pawson House heritage building. If you’re an artist, you can apply to be featured here.
Hankering for some art to devour? Hit up Melbourne’s best exhibitions this month.
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis