Canberra’s art scene covers everything from Australia’s rich history to its diverse present. Museums, galleries and public art spaces reach every corner of the Capital and are embraced by locals and visitors alike.
Sitting along the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin, the National Gallery of Australia is probably the most well-known of Canberra’s art spaces. More than 100,000 pieces of world-class art line the walls and floors of The National Gallery. Download an orientation map online, or pick one up at the entry to help guide your way around, it isn’t hard to get lost in 10+ exhibition spaces. Appreciate Australia’s history and spend some time admiring Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series, Skyscape by Australian artist James Turrell and the Reimagining Artists exhibition The Aboriginal Memorial.
Just next door sits the National Portrait Gallery, where you can see portraits of over 400 people who have shaped Australia’s history. Artwork celebrating sportspeople, royalty, politicians and musicians line the walls of the award winning building, flooded with natural light. Highlights include Princess Mary of Denmark, Ned Kelly and Howard Arkley’s Nick Cave.
The largest privately owned commercial gallery in the ACT, Beaver Galleries is home to art from some of Australia’s most highly regarded contemporary artists. You can buy any piece on display, from sculptures and paintings to ceramics and jewellery. The sculpture garden is a beautiful place you can wander through and explore.
Travel secret – Visit the fully licensed Palette Café within Beaver Galleries, for a relaxed all-day brunch on weekends in the courtyard. Bookings recommended, call 6282 8416.
The only professional glass centre in Australia, Canberra Glassworks is a Canberra institution. The ‘Hotshop’ is open for tours, demonstrations, classes and workshops from Tuesday to Sunday. Watch experts craft incredible pieces, then make your own tumbler to take home. Exhibitions are updated regularly and feature some of Australia’s best glasswork artists.
The National Museum of Australia, sitting seemingly in the middle of Lake Burley Griffin, is home to incredible exhibitions showcasing some of Australia’s most prized and precious history in its galleries. The permanent First Australians exhibition is the most talked about, featuring stories from prominent Indigenous Australians, objects and multimedia displays. The highly anticipated History of the World in 100 Objects opens in September 2016, showcasing two million years of history from The British Museum.
The ANU School of Art hosts pieces from up and coming artists as well as regular conferences and seminars. There are guest speakers twice weekly during university semesters and programs hosted by local organisations. Visit in November and December to see the exciting graduate show. Short courses are also available, as well as night classes if you’re looking to discover or refine your artistic side.