Australia’s national gallery has objects from across Asia and the Pacific, European and American works, and indigenous, colonial and contemporary Australian art.
The National Gallery of Australia is the largest art museum in the country. It’s home to over 160,000 works, including the most extensive collection of Aboriginal art in the world. It also holds traditional and modern works from all around Asia, statues and paintings by European and American masters, and Australian works from the colonial era to the present day.
Wander through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander galleries to see more than 7,500 works in various media. Two hundred painted tree trunks known as log coffins make up The Aboriginal Memorial. It was created in 1988 to mark Australia’s bicentenary, with each trunk representing one year of European settlement. Keep exploring to see desert paintings from the renowned Papunya community in central Australia, fine woven textiles and bark paintings from around the country.
The Asian collection has art from China, Japan, India, and beyond. You’ll see Hindu and Islamic sculptures from the Indian subcontinent as well as Buddhas and Neolithic artefacts from Southeast Asia. See intricate textile works from Indonesian weavers. The East and Central Asian galleries house traditional wood prints and ceramics, while the Pacific section features a range of sculptures and items from Melanesia and Polynesia.
Move on to the European and American collection to look at works by Picasso and Monet, pop art by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, dada and surrealist paintings, and contemporary works from both continents. The Australian galleries hold a formidable selection of early colonial paintings, Australian Impressionist works, modern and abstract paintings, decorative arts and contemporary pieces in various media.
The National Gallery of Australia is along Lake Burley Griffin in Parkes Place, only a short walk from the National Library, Questacon and Parliament House. Parking is limited around the gallery so consider using the ACTION buses, which stop within walking distance and service the major Canberra attractions. Buses depart from the central business district.
The gallery is open every day except Christmas Day. Admission to the permanent collection is free, but special exhibitions usually cost extra.