As unique and diverse as the country itself, the Art Gallery of New South Wales presents Australia’s heterogeneous culture with exhibits from early 16th century to the most modern, ensuring each visitor something captivating. One among Australia’s three major public galleries and Sydney’s lone one, the museum is worth a visit solely for the architectural splendor of its building. Impressing visitors with its classical Greek columns adorned with festoons advertising the museum’s latest acquisition, the gallery reminds one and all of the Metropolitan of New York.
Opened to the public in 1884, the gallery underwent massive renovation at the turn of 20th century. Built-in classical tradition, the gallery claims its status as an art gallery from its nooks and corners. The museum is designed in such a way that newer arrivals do not make a jarring notes. The gray concrete and sandstone structure is immensely helpful in this regard. Exhibits have kept increasing periodically and the exhibition space has more than doubled. The latest major addition was in 1988, the Captain Cook Bicentenary Wing.
The Australian Collection presents the work of natives with European ancestry. Contributions of sculptors and painters, including the famous artworks of Roberts and McCubbin are on display. The Golden Fleece (1894) by Roberts and The Wallaby Track (1896) by McCubbin is the most prominent among them.
Works by 20th-century Australian artists are exhibited in Captain Cook Wing. Yiribana Gallery on the third level focuses on artworks from Australia’s aboriginal artists. The great craftsmanship of the country’s ethnic group over centuries is showcased here, while their modern works, especially during the last century, are included in the Australian Collection. Torres Strait Islander Art is a major draw at the art museum.
The country’s Asian connection is revealed through its outstanding Asian Collection. Chinese and Japanese art find takers for its ancient and modern forms. Also included are artworks from India and Southeast Asia. Categorized according to topography, the museum allows visitors to find artworks of their choice effortlessly.
Lovers of European art tradition, from 16th century Italian and Dutch to 19th century Victorian, are in for a treat at the museum’s Western Collection. Also on display are modern works by contemporary Australians and impressionistic landscapes from the Australian Heidelberg School of Art.
After doing the rounds of the gallery, visitors can enjoy themselves at the sprawling grounds that double up as a picnic spot. The heightened hunger pangs can be addressed either at the second-floor café or on a slightly expensive scale at the top-floor restaurant.
The museum offers various programs to the public to help them understand the nuances of the art world. A one-month course on modern photography is very popular. Other attractions include musical performances by modern aboriginal artists. The museum is made lively, especially for children, with tour guides dressed up in attractive costumes, such as fruit bats.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales lies a short walk away from the world-famous Sydney Opera House, close to Royal Botanic Gardens.