It’s not often that you find a world class art gallery that’s as easy to visit as the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Melbourne’s fortress-like art museum has free entry and only charges admission for the annual summer blockbuster and winter masterpieces exhibitions. The NGV is the oldest major art gallery in Australia, founded before Australia as a nation even existed.
The 2017 Winter Masterpieces exhibition is Van Gogh & The Seasons, which is still packed even more than a month after opening. The Van Gogh exhibition is wonderful, but there is more on at the NGV at the moment than the major exhibition.
Check out these five free exhibitions at the NGV.
William Eggleston Portraits
William Eggleston has cemented himself as one of the great photographers of our time with his pioneering use of colour and his democratic approach to his subjects as he captured suburban life in the southern United States in the 1950s and 60s. His portraits capture friends, family and strangers, mostly in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.
Ends: 18 June 2017
Love: Art of Emotion 1400-1800
The NGV drew upon its permanent collection to curate this exhibition which focuses on love and how it was represented in art and decorative objects in the early modern period. The exhibition explores love in many forms, such as romantic love, narcissism, friendship, familial love, mourning, patriotism and more. I recognised a few major pieces that are usually on display in the NGV, but there were many more that I’d never seen before, and I’m guessing aren’t usually on display.
If you’re interested in society’s ever-changing idea of what love is, I also recommend reading How The French Invented Love by Marilyn Yalom, which explores how the French influenced the western world’s idea of love through literature, theatre and their altogether so frenchy so chic-ness, which the rest of the world can’t resist copying.
Creating the Contemporary Chair
This eye-catching collection of chairs created from the 1980s til now was fun to wander through, particularly after looking at more serious or realistic artwork. Usually, this gallery is full of 1950s and 60s fashion.
Ends: 15 October 2017
The NGV’s salon-style room was completely transformed into a dark, moody space illuminated by Bill Henson’s ethereal photographs. The Australian photographer is one of Australia’s finest, so it was a nice surprise to find his work in the middle of the NGV and have the chance to see a collection of his work up close.
Ends: 27 August 2017
The Language of Ornament
It is so easy to miss the exhibitions on the decorative arts passage, which is essentially the balcony that overlooks the great hall. There’s always some interesting design exhibition on here, like their recent Scandinavian design exhibition. The exhibition focuses on icons used in western design, and explores each motif or icon and its uses throughout the ages.
Ends: December 2017
Have you been to the NGV? What is your favourite art gallery or museum?