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A Shot of Culture in Canberra

Jan 2, 2018  ·  4 min read

It’s that time of the year when many shops, restaurants and cultural hubs are closed. We understand, everyone needs a break. But never fear, you can always count on art galleries and museums to be open to keep you occupied for a day or more of sensory indulgence. Canberra is renowned for exceptional art and cultural offerings, so don’t deny yourself – make sure you take in all that you can.

There are many art and museum spaces to wander but we’ve narrowed down some of the essentials.

National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia has been a staple of Canberra life for 35 years. It is acclaimed for the tremendous amount of highly prestigious artworks and exhibitions that they showcase from all over the world. Many people plan their trips to Canberra around the exhibitions showing at the NGA. The space is very large so there’s always multiple areas to explore. Also, make sure to have a stroll outside to see the many sculptures and art installations around the grounds.

Currently showing is ‘Hyper Real‘ described as provoking “fascination, fear and joy” – to be honest, I’m already hooked! Coming up next is the sparkling sensation that is ‘Cartier: The Exhibition‘. Expect copious amounts of precious stones on loan from royal families, celebrities and the Cartier collection – ooh la la.

Canberra Contemporary Art Space

You can find CCAS in two locations – Gorman House and Manuka, although Manuka is not exhibiting at the moment. It is known as an encouraging, innovative arena where artists can develop intriguing new artistic ideas and works, while learning and collaborating with their more experienced peers and mentors surrounding them. CCAS is all about pushing boundaries and creativity, and the end results are both mesmerising and thought provoking.

The current exhibitions at Gorman House are ‘Domino Gold‘, ‘Broken-Binary-Brown‘ and ‘At Home He’s a Tourist‘ – all are very different and combine multiple mediums such as abstract painting and installation. It is a feast for the eyes.

Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres

Hosting Canberra’s largest collective of professional artists and arts companies, these twin centres certainly bring the culture! Gorman Arts Centre is dedicated to creative thinking, artistic interpretation and growth. Ainslie Arts Centre is all about music – music education and music expression oozes from the walls.

This artistic village has regular displays of the works that are being developed and produced within the space, whether it be art, music, theatre or all of the above. The community vibe is infectious so bring some friends or meet some new ones, but don’t miss out on an incredibly captivating and rewarding experience.

National Museum of Australia

The National Museum building is an artwork in itself and well worth a walk around the exterior. Situated on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin, we recommend riding around the river to get there. It’s flat, it’s beautiful and there are heaps of bike racks for you to lock up your loyal two wheeled steed once you arrive at the Museum.

The NMA is all about exploring our country’s history – the land, people and environment. You will not be disappointed. It’s also a perfect spot to take the kids – it is educational, interesting and very fun. The hit exhibition at this time is ‘Songlines‘, which explores the famous Aboriginal-led expedition across the desert, all while under a 6-metre art dome within the museum.

Some of our personal favourites are closed at the moment but, if you are heading to Canberra in the latter part of January, make sure to check out the goods at Canberra Museum and Gallery, Beaver Galleries, Strathnairn Homestead Gallery, M16 Artspace and Photoaccess. Many of the smaller exhibition spaces in Canberra are also studios and education centres so it’s very interesting to get more of a behind the scenes understanding of art production as a whole.

words by emily carstairs


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