National Portrait Gallery

Top choice gallery in Parkes & Barton
Image by Andrew Watson / Getty Images

Occupying a flash, purpose-built building, this wonderful gallery is a striking representation of Australia's shifting self-image and a must-see for art and history lovers. From wax cameos of Indigenous Australians to colonial portraits of the nation's founding families, to Howard Arkley's DayGlo portrait of musician Nick Cave and a host of modern Australian icons portrayed in various mediums, the gallery is an inspiring account of a nation's many faces. Only around 10% of the collection of more than 3500 works is on display at any one time, so there's always something different to see. New portraits of contemporary Australian figures are also commissioned every year.

There is a good cafe for post-exhibition coffee and reflection.