Aspire to Greatness, Listers! Masterpieces are winging their way to us all the way from The Hermitage Museum, from the personal collection of Catherine the Great. It’s the most esteemed art collection in the world, and it’s landing in one of the artiest cities Australia’s got.
Of course, while you’re there, there are plenty of other things to do in Melbourne too (ahem… drinking and dining). Here’s your guide to an art-packed mini-break in Melbs.
Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine The Great
National Gallery of Victoria
You know you’re going to like Catherine the Great when you hear that she had the most expensive dinner setting of her time. Clearly, this was one Russian Queen who had her priorities right. Seriously though, this is the kind of collection where no expense was spared. Case in point, Catherine the Great literally poached French artists back in the day because she was willing to pay more than French locals. Now that’s a baller move.
This collection is your chance to see how the other half (okay, 0.01%) lived, back when art would blow away everyone from the most uncultured simpleton to the most regal of patrons. Of course there are plenty of stories and history to add intrigue to the exquisite pieces, but even if you totally failed that art history paper, this is one spectacle you will kick yourself if you miss. From the finest Dutch and Flemish art to reach our shores, to French and Chinese collections, save yourself the round-the-world trip, and luxuriate in a more refined kind of splendour from the past.
The Legacy of Catherine exhibition kicks off 31 July and runs until 8 November 2015.
Live in Art at The Art Series Hotels
South Yarra, Prahan
The Art Series Hotels do not take the concept of experiencing art lightly. Every one of their six boutique hotels contain original works from the artists that the hotels are named after, as well as art libraries, tours and utensils in case inspiration strikes. Oh, and they are all located in the coolest, artiest suburbs in town. The Olsen and The Cullen are both within 20 minutes drive from the National Gallery of Victoria (and The Legacy of Catherine exhibition), which is quite convenient, really.
Relive the Royal Treatment at Hopetoun Tea Rooms
Hello high tea with a history! Head into Hopetoun Tea Rooms for some charming Melburnian stories with your fine foods and breakfast “the old fashioned way.” Of course if you’re just looking for a quick tea and scones (with double cream, of course), you can still marvel the treats on display and feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of a 19th Century TV show.
Explore Underground Street Art
A few steps away from the National Gallery of Victoria there’s a more modern-day treasure trove that Melbourne has become world famous for in its own right. Melbourne Street Art Tours take you through laneways, galleries, a little social politics, and to chill out with the artists themselves over a beer or wine.
Put Your Inner Creative to Work at Crafternoon Café
Craft away with collage while you eat cupcakes (or decorate one), and do it for a mere tenner. While you’re indulging your inner kid at Crafternoon Café, tickle your tastebuds with a spider. They even offer a vegan version that has us keen, with coconut and kaffir lime sorbet. Take your time, because brunch is served all day.
Get in the Mediterranean Mood at Woody P
The interior design at Woody P is going to be worth the Italian-inspired goodness that you won’t be able to resist, whether it’s for lunch or dinner. Neon artworks adorn bare brick walls amongst planter boxes inside the restaurant, making Woody P a feast for many senses.
Stay Entertained at 1000 £ Bend
This laid back Melbourne café and bar includes a gallery, cinema and events space so you can watch something other than your phone while you lounge around for a feed. The menu keeps it simple, with brekkie classics through morning and burgers and pizza from Slice Girls appearing later in the day. With cheap beers on tap, this is the perfect pit stop right before you head home.
Eat Sweet Dessert Art at Om Nom
Can we just say we love the name of this dessert bar already? Though the desserts may sound playful and quaint (ChocolaTerrarium, we’re lookin at you), the desserts are nothing short of creative masterpieces. There’s a reason chef Christy Tania has struck fear into many a Masterchef contestant. These are spectacular works that we almost can’t bear to dig in to!
Staying around longer and are looking for Melbourne’s best restaurants, bars and shopping? Check out our Melbourne directory.
Editor's Note: This article is proudly sponsored by the National Gallery of Victoria and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.
Image credits: National Gallery of Victoria, The Cullen, Salvage Espresso