Make Art History Come to Life in Melbourne
Art is far more than beauty captured in the moment. Art is also a visual history of civilization, chronicling how we see the universe around us, what we think of different things and different people, and the advances of science and perception. In art we can see large-scale issues such as history, politics and philosophy, as well as smaller-scale issues concerning daily life, family, and community.
Visuals always make an impact, and building a school trip around great works of art can be an ideal way to create a powerful educational experience for your group. Melbourne has one of the most diverse and collections of art from around the world, ranging from classic pieces that make the past come alive to cutting-edge modern installations that challenge our view of the world. If you need to set up an art-based trip for students, Melbourne is a perfect choice: The city has several must-see museums and galleries for your artistically-inclined group.
Which Museums are ‘Must See’ in Melbourne?
National Gallery of Victoria. Founded more than 150 years ago, the National Gallery Victoria (often referred to simply as NGV) forms the ideal base for any art-based trip. The Australian Collection is a fascinating journey through the history of Australia, beginning with aboriginal works, progressing through the colonial and pioneer period, and culminating in vibrant modern works. The International Collection is one of the best in the world, including works by Correggio, Degas, van Dyck, El Greco, Manet, Picasso, Rembrandt and Turner.
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. The NGV can easily fill several days of a trip, but it does have a distinct focus on classic pieces. The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art bridges the gap between the Old World and today. More than a museum, it has taken an aggressive role in commissioning new works by both established and emerging artists around the world, growing a collection of modern works that is unparalleled.
Backwoods Gallery. Founded in 2003, the Backwoods Gallery concentrates on the absolute cutting edge: Street art, graffiti and urban art that you won’t find in any other museum. While this does mean the works presented run the gamut in terms of impact and lasting effect, for any burgeoning artists or art historians in your group it is a must-see because it represents the pulsing real-time work of artists who are currently anonymous but might be household names decades from now.
What about Art Galleries?
Museums are essential stops for an art-focused group, as they collect an intense amount of work under one roof, making for efficient visiting. But Melbourne is also a thriving scene of art and commerce, and several galleries are absolutely essential stops on any trip.
Heide Museum of Modern Art. Affectionately called simply “Heide” by residents, this special spot a few minutes’ drive outside Melbourne proper is more than a museum containing some spectacular examples of modern art. It’s an all-day event, featuring acres of perfectly manicured gardens and a sculpture park in addition to more traditional exhibition halls.
Bundoora Homestead Art Centre. Housed in a historic mansion built in 1899, this small but excellent museum offers some of the greatest of Australia’s modern artists all in one place, including names such as Elisabeth Bodey, Turbo Brown, Georgina Cue, Jennifer Goodman, Amanda Johnson, Warren Lane, Peter Waples Crowe and Sharon West, all displayed in surroundings that are as inspirational and beautiful as the works they contain.
Centre for Contemporary Photography. No discussion of modern art is complete without a foray into photography. The CCP offers a continuously-refreshing collection of both classic photographs and newly-acquired collections from modern artists chronicling both Melbourne and Australia and the world at large.
Melbourne is an ideal destination for students studying art from any angle. Aside from museums and galleries that will give your group a visual representation of art – and world – history as techniques and points of view change over time, the city is also home to a living, energetic artist community producing some of the world’s most important modern works.
Now you know where to take your art students and budding artists – all you have to do is book the trip. Have you toured Melbourne’s galleries and museums? Let us know in the comments – we want your tips and advice!