An art lover’s guide to Melbourne’s best galleries
19.05.2021

An art lover’s guide to Melbourne’s best galleries

Emily Floyd's 'Abstract Labour' from 2014. Installation view at Heide Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery. Photo by John Gollings.
Words by Tammy Walters

Melbourne has been branded the arts capital of Australia, and for good reason.

While a trip to the Louvre Museum in Paris or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York may be off the cards for a little while, Melburnians don’t need to catch a flight to catch culture.

Melbourne has been branded the arts capital of Australia, and for good reason; just look at the rich display of art painting our city corridors. Art and culture are embedded in our city’s identity and we are home to some of Australia’s best boutique contemporary gallery spaces and museums.

Here is our list of must-see galleries to visit around Melbourne.

Keep up with all the latest arts news, reviews and interviews here.

Outré Gallery

With two convenient locations across Melbourne, including one in the heart of the city on Elizabeth Street and the newest addition on Smith Street, Outré Gallery challenges the conventions of the archetypal gallery. Known for their distinctive range of figurative artwork and curatorial aesthetic, Outré has been host to an extensive catalogue of highly regarded works from the likes of James Jean, Audrey Kawasaki, Mark Ryden, and Stella Im Hultberg, amongst others.

Find Outré Gallery at 249-251 Elizabeth St, CBD and 319 Smith St, Fitzroy. 

 

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Arc One Gallery

Located in the centre of Melbourne’s arts precinct on Flinders Lane, Arc One is one of Australia’s leading contemporary commercial galleries. With a multi-tier business operation of exhibition and representation, Arc One has a diverse roster and portfolio of mid-career to established artists. From solo shows to group exhibitions delivered across a multitude of mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, installations, video, and visual media, Arc One is shaping the narrative to present Australian artists in the same high calibre division as their international counterparts.

Find Arc One Gallery at 45 Flinders Ln, CBD.

 

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Tolarno Galleries

Established in 1967, Tolarno Galleries has a rich history of curating highly stimulating, innovative, and boundary-pushing exhibitions across contemporary art and design. Fittingly located on Exhibition Street, the gallery boasts an impressive exhibition log flooded with modern masters and emerging leaders including Bonnard, Dali, Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Pissarro, Renoir, and Vuillard in the early years and Australian modernists Charles Blackman, John Brack, Arthur Boyd, Joy Hester, and Albert Tucker. Another all-rounder in the spectrum of artwork, Tolarno has become especially known and celebrated on a global scale for the inclusion of mind-boggling, cutting-edge design works.

Find Tolarno Galleries at Level 4, 104 Exhibition St, CBD. 

 

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Anna Schwartz Gallery

A self-titled gallery from distinguished gallerist and curator, Anna Schwartz, the Anna Schwartz Gallery is now directed by Tania Doropoulos. With a mission to identify, nurture and showcase the careers of visionary Australian and international artists, the contemporary space represents over 30 multi-generational art-makers and works, bringing to life individual projects. With installations running on a monthly basis, Anna Schwarz Gallery is transformed by minimalist modernist curatorial endeavours.

Find Anna Schwartz Gallery at 185 Flinders Ln, CBD. 

 

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Flinders Lane Gallery

Only a stone’s throw away from Anna Schwartz Gallery resides Flinders Lane Gallery, a must-see on the walking gallery tour in the arts precinct. Under the careful directorial guide of Claire Harris since 2006, Flinders Lane Gallery takes great pride in sourcing and showcasing prised artworks. Working with and championing artists from all points of their career progression, Flinders Lane Gallery emphasises exceptional, quality artworks that demonstrate conceptual precision, technical proficiency, and creative awareness and sensitivity. You can also take a virtual tour of their gallery exhibitions on their website, with prints available to purchase from their stockroom.

Find Flinders Lane Gallery at Level 1, The Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston St, CBD.

Blindside

Dynamic and transformative – the two ingredients for intrigue in the art world. Blindside delivers on this promise, with their 2021 program calendar set to make good on the guarantee. Open Tuesday through Saturday during the exhibition period, Blindside fosters the bold and encourages the courageous across all artforms. Through contemporary art practices of sculpture, drawing, painting, performance art, design, as well as modern variations of visual media, sound, and installation, Blindside provides the blank space for artists to paint their signature.

Find Blindside at Level 7, 37 Swanston St, CBD. 

 

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Fox Galleries

Established by Michael Fox and relocated to Melbourne in 2016, this Collingwood gallery has become a welcome addition to the gallery circuit and Collingwood precinct. With an artists management arm and gallery core, Fox Galleries boasts three gallery spaces coloured with an array of art. Operating on an annual calendar, Fox Galleries has housed works by Tim Clarkson, social commentator Victor Rubin, and portrait painter Esther Erlich.

Find Fox Galleries at 67 Wellington St, Collingwood. 

 

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Sutton Gallery

Sutton Gallery has called Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, its home since 1992. With a monthly program calendar of solo and group exhibitions from highly regarded contemporary Australian and New Zealand artists, Sutton Gallery has earned a name as one of Australia’s best contemporary galleries. So far in 2021, they have presented works by renowned artists, David Rosetzky, Eugene Carchesio, and Raafat Ishak.

Find Sutton Gallery at 254 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. 

Buxton Contemporary

Although still in its infancy, Buxton Contemporary has forged a strong name in the Melbourne contemporary art scene. A product of University of Melbourne’s flagship arts school, Victorian College of the Arts, Buxton Contemporary is a platform for exposure and education. With four main public gallery spaces and outdoor screens dedicated to the display of moving image art, Buxton Contemporary is not just a gallery space or a museum, it’s an all-encompassing arts hub. The space engages local, national, and international artists for art exhibitions.

Find Buxton Contemporary on the corner of Southbank Blvd and Dodds St, Southbank. 

National Gallery of Victoria

One simply cannot have a list of Melbourne’s best art galleries and not mention NGV. Split across two locations within the CBD, NGV International and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, the dual galleries are known for their enticing and enthralling exhibitions. Like a playground for art-loving adults (and kids, too), NGV frequently houses interactive pieces, large-scale installations, and artworks from world-renowned artists ranging from Vincent Van Gogh to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Find NGV International at 180 St Kilda Rd, CBD and NGV Australia at Federation Square, CBD. 

Heide Museum of Modern Art

Another Melbourne staple, Heide Museum of Modern Art has been drawing tourists and Melburnians alike to Bulleen for decades. From the early ’30s onwards, the site was home to Melbourne couple John and Sunday Reed who, over the years, opened their doors to artists such as Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester and Albert Tucker, eventually establishing it as a public museum. Not only does Heide house an incredible collection of contemporary art within its walls, but it’s surrounded by lush gardens and a sculpture park.

Find Heide Museum of Modern Art at 7 Templestowe Rd, Bulleen.

Want more culture? Check out our list of Melbourne’s best free museums