Melbourne has a well-earned reputation as the cultural capital of Australia. Not only does it have more concerts than any other city in the country, but it also has fantastic scenes across every facet of the arts, including the likes of literature and theatre. Of course, when it comes to the arts, it’s hard to go past the galleries, and Melbourne has more than enough to keep even the most rabid consumer of classic and contemporary works satisfied – more than 100 institutions as a matter of fact. 

With so many options, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to choose a few select galleries to check out during your time in Victoria’s capital. To make things a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of three of the very best, and they’re all well worth checking out next time you make a visit to Melbourne, whether you’re an art snob or a casual enthusiast. 


1. National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)

As the oldest public art gallery in Australia, there’s certainly a sense of historical importance when perusing works at the NGV. Established all the way back in 1861, this gallery is actually separated into two distinct collections, each housed in their own building. The NGV International is focused on the very best from around the world, with artists from Europe, Asia and the Pacific receiving special attention. This collection is widely considered to be amongst the most important in the country, and frequently features special shows such as the current exhibition honouring French master Edgar Degas. 

On the other hand, there’s the Ian Potter Centre, which has a clear focus on Australian artists. Art in this collection ranges from colonial times all the way up to the present day. With a particular emphasis being placed on Indigenous works, The Centre is a great way to gain a better understanding of the country’s cultural heritage.

2. Australian Centre for Contemporary Art 

The ACCA was established much more recently than the NGV, in 1983. Even so, in a few short decades it has quickly gained a reputation as the place to see the very latest in contemporary art trends. You’ll find everything from sonic installations to surreal sculptures within the gallery, and to make things even better, the ACCA is located in the heart of Melbourne’s Southbank arts precinct, a short walk away from the NGV and a host of other great museums. 

In fact, you don’t even have to go inside to get a sense of the contemporary focus. The building itself is a masterpiece, having been awarded several architectural awards.

3. Centre for Contemporary Photography

If you’d prefer to focus on a specific branch of the visual arts, it’s hard to go past Melbourne’s mecca for photography. Like the ACCA, it’s a relative newcomer on the scene, having been founded in 1986, but has grown with the medium and is now regarded as one of the best galleries in the city. There’s an equal focus on the works themselves and the processes behind them, with regular artist’s seminars and public lectures to provide a better understanding of the field. 

The Centre for Contemporary Photography is located in Fitzroy, on the north side of the Yarra river, and boasts five separate exhibition spaces. The Night Projection Window is worth the trip alone, showcasing images from recognised masters and emerging voices alike. 

Of course, these are only three of the many unique galleries that you can visit while staying in Melbourne. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a fan of art, there’s plenty that you can learn from these astounding works that attempt to relay a few truths from Australian history and the global human condition.

For more information on where to travel in and around Melbourne, get in touch with East Coast Car Rentals today.