Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia, Australasia

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National Gallery of Australia

Top choice in Canberra

This Australian national art collection is showcased in an impressive purpose-built gallery within the parliamentary precinct. You can justifiably bypass the ticketed exhibitions as almost every big name you could think of from Australian and international art, past and present, is represented in the permanent collection. Famous works include Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock, one of Monet's Waterlilies, a Hockney Diver, several of Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly paintings, Salvador Dali's Lobster Telephone, an Andy Warhol Elvis print and a triptych by Francis Bacon.

Highlights include the extraordinary Aboriginal Memorial from Central Arnhem Land in the lobby, created for Australia's 1988 bicentenary. The work of 43 artists, this 'forest of souls' presents 200 hollow log coffins (one for every year of European settlement) and is part of an excellent collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Most of the Australian art is on the 1st floor, alongside a fine collection of Asian and Pacific art. The outdoor sculpture garden offers a dramatic site for repose. A children's program runs on weekends and school holidays.

Free guided tours are offered hourly from 10.30am to 2.30pm.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Canberra attractions

1. High Court of Australia


The glass-and-concrete High Court building sits on the plaza between the capital's two main art galleries, and, not to be outdone, is home to a large…

2. National Portrait Gallery

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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…

3. Reconciliation Place

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A section of the grassy public space between Parliament and Lake Burley Griffin has been designated to represent the nation's commitment to the cause of…

5. National Carillon

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This 50m-high bell tower was opened in 1970 as a gift from Britain on Canberra’s 50th anniversary. The tower has 55 bronze bells, weighing from 7kg to 6…

6. Questacon

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Most families visiting Canberra head straight for Questacon, Australia's premier science museum, where they can play around with fun interactive exhibits…

7. Aboriginal Tent Embassy

0.36 MILES

First erected in 1972 as a protest against the government's approach to Indigenous land rights, this camp on the lawn in front of Old Parliament House…

8. Museum of Australian Democracy

0.41 MILES

The seat of government from 1927 to 1988, this elegantly proportioned building offers visitors a taste of the political past. Displays cover Australian…