As Australia’s second most populous city, Melbourne has recently emerged as the continent’s cultural capital, boasting over a hundred contemporary art centers, artist-run initiatives, and a vibrant street art scene. As this bustling metropolis is still off the beaten path for many tourists, visitors will be able to take advantage of the city’s abundant cultural opportunities without massive line-ups and crowds. Always colorful and offbeat, the galleries and art spaces listed below represent the very best of this blossoming art destination.
Location: 200 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Melbourne VIC
Why We Picked It: Situated in a spacious former warehouse in the trendy Fitzroy neighborhood, Gertrude Contemporary has been exhibiting Australia’s leading artistic talent alongside international favorites since 1985. This hipster haven boasts popular exhibition openings, massive windows bursting with natural light, and a plethora of sculptural and mixed media work.
Image via Gertrude Contemporary
Location: Building 16, 344 Swanston Street, City Campus, RMIT University, Melbourne VIC
Why We Picked It: Those on the hunt for Melbourne’s most innovative, cutting-edge work should not miss the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and its signature gallery space housed within in the campus’ famed limestone Storey Hall. This progressive student gallery is known for exhibiting Australia’s next generation of artistic heavyweights with their focus on public art and design. Interestingly, the university recently participated in White Night Melbourne with their “Animating Laneways” project which aims to make fine art more accessible through public works. As part of this effort, students painted local walkways with bright, colorful designs, adding to the city’s extensive street art collection.
Image via RMIT Gallery
MAILBOX ART SPACE
Location: 141-143 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC
Why We Picked It: Previously known as Mailbox 141, the alternative Mailbox Art Space is a treasure trove of bizarre, unique art pieces. This bohemian Flinders Lane hotspot exhibits site-specific work made by local artists around a collection of restored wooden mailboxes from the 1930s. With no themes or guidelines, the artists can be as creative as they like, which always makes for fun, avant-garde shows.
Image via Mailbox Art Space
CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY
Location: 404 George Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne VIC
Why We Picked It: This not-for-profit photography hub has been exhibiting emerging and established names and holding beginner’s classes as well as artist lectures since 1986. Noted photographers, including Lynette Smith, Julie Davies, and Alex Rizkalla are all currently on view in this renowned art center’s five gallery spaces. For an added bonus, you can wander this exquisite space for free.
Image via the Centre for Contemporary Photography
HEIDE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
Location: 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen, Melbourne VIC
Why We Picked It: For those willing to make the short journey to the scenic Melbourne suburb of Bulleen, your effort will be rewarded with a sweeping collection of modernist and contemporary masterpieces by Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, Sidney Nolan and more as well as charming 16 acre gardens dotted with sculpture at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. History buffs will revel in the fascinating stories behind this renovated farmhouse dating back to 1934. This former home of Australian art collectors John and Sunday Reed is now one of Australia’s leading modern art institutions with its emphasis on living, local talent and blue chip artists. Spread over three buildings, this compound varies from historical to modern, black zinc edifices. While there is a small fee to enter the museum itself, guests can tour the sculpture gardens free of charge.
Image via the Heide Museum of Modern Art