World-class Sydney houses a melting pot of culture and arts in many forms, from its iconic architecture to its state-of-the art galleries, exploring Sydney’s arts precincts is an absolute must for locals and travellers alike. From the hallow halls of the grand Art Gallery of New South Wales, to a boutique Bondi gallery hanging beach-themed photography, Sydney art galleries abound from all corners of the city. Here, we have listed our top must-visit Sydney art galleries for the curious culture-seekers.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
One of Sydney’s most iconic buildings and the top of the must-visit list is the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the state’s national art gallery.
With a coveted permanent collection, plus rotating seasonal exhibitions (around 40 each year), including blockbusters such as the annual Archibald Prize, the Art Gallery of NSW is a Sydney experience that will nourish the aesthete in everyone.
Admission is free to the general exhibition space, which displays Australian art (from settlement to contemporary), European and Asian art, with a dedicated Asian Gallery opened in 2003.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Set in a prime location, this Sydney art gallery was opened in 1991 and is dedicated to showcasing local and international modern art. It is housed in the art deco-style former Maritime Services Board Building on the western edge of Circular Quay, which puts it right in the thick of the tourist trail and is one not to be missed.
Plus, the MCA is not merely an art gallery, encouraging community involvement with their monthly ARTBAR events, and inviting social, family and not-for-profit groups to experience MCA exhibitions on special tours delivered by their Artist Educators. Free daily guided tours are also a staple of this Sydney art gallery.
White Rabbit Gallery
Free to attend, the White Rabbit Gallery is a Sydney art gallery that exhibits works from the White Rabbit Collection of 21st-century Chinese contemporary art. The collection, one of the largest of its kind in the world, is owned by Judith Neilson and was established by Judith and Kerr Neilson. Housed in a renovated former warehouse and Rolls-Royce service depot, it contains more than 1000 works by several hundred artists. Well-worth a visit.
Brett Whiteley Studio
One of Australia’s most prolific painters and artists, Brett Whiteley worked and lived in a studio space in Surry Hills, which, since 1995 has been preserved as a public gallery for punters to get a glimpse into how the artist worked and lived.
Visitors are offered a unique opportunity to experience the atmosphere of the space – the studio with his unfinished paintings, art equipment and collections of reference books, and the graffiti wall covered with quotes and images.
The brainchild of avid surfer and photographer Eugene Tan, Aquabumps started as a daily online photo-share platform, where he would upload images he’d taken on his morning surf in Bondi and share them with an engaged online audience daily.
In 2004, Aquabumps opened its first gallery in Bondi Beach, which showcases these glorious Bondi beach-themed photos in a physical space. With customers from all over the world, the artworks are signed by the artist and available in various sizes, prices, and framing techniques. Aquabumps was the first gallery in Australia to adopt the new metallic prints, acrylic face mounts and acrylic blocks, so it’s a great place to pick up a unique and locally sourced piece of art.
National Art School
A striking piece of Sydney architecture, the National Art School has a history extending back almost 175 years, to the first lecture presented at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts in 1843.
In 1999, the National Art School began to offer an accredited Bachelor of Fine Arts program, and a Master of Fine Arts and is now a higher education provider.
There are often alumni exhibitions to see, plus simply walking around the beautiful grounds provide a sense of history and tranquillity.