When you’re travelling, experiencing the local art scene is often a must do; however, it’s easy to forget the astounding art we can find in our own backyard. Check out our top Melbourne art experiences.
If you’re looking for a full day experiencing art, head to Heide Museum of Modern Art [7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen]. It has something for everyone, from art aficionados right through to those whose interest in art is only beginning. John and Sunday Reed, both supporters and collectors of Australian Art, owned the property before it was sold to the government. From its humble beginnings, Heide became a space for artists to work and live, attracting many notable modernist painters to its ranks, including Albert Tucker and Danila Vassilieff. Some of these artists’ most highly regarded works were dreamt up at Heide, during their time as part of an artistic collective known as the Heide Circle. Stroll through the impressive galleries housed across three buildings, 15 acres of perfectly manicured gardens and the sculpture gardens to take a glimpse at the works of these artists — and many others — before stopping in at Cafe Heide for a bite to eat.
Montsalvat [7 Hillcrest Avenue, Eltham] is one of Australia’s oldest artist colonies and the perfect place to explore your creativity, offering a space where nature, architecture and art come together. The Montsalvat artists’ colony was established by artist and architect Justus Jorgensen and brought to life by a collective of artists that he met during his travels or mentored. Today it continues to celebrate art in all its forms, while simultaneously offering picturesque views in tranquil surrounds (it’s now a popular wedding venue). Head to Montsalvat and see the exhibitions of local artistic talent — from painters to jewellers, musicians to sculptors — then wander through the historic mudbrick cottages and lush gardens. There’s also an onsite cafe serving up delicious bites for when you need fuel to keep those creative juices flowing.
If you prefer appreciating art in the form of captured moments, this is the Melbourne art experience for you. Monash Gallery of Art [860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill] is Melbourne’s home of photography, dedicated to showcasing the homegrown work of talented and renowned Australian photographers including Bill Henson and Tracey Moffat. Photography enthusiasts will love browsing through a collection of more than 2,600 images that show the evolution of creative photography in Australia. Guided tours are available for those who want a more in-depth experience and the chance for some Q&A. If the sun is shining, be sure to check out the sculpture park, where you can continue your art experience — take in views of the Dandenong Ranges while admiring the gallery’s architecture by acclaimed modernist Harry Seidler.
With the aim of promoting contemporary art through workshops, performances and exhibitions, Footscray Community Arts Centre [45 Moreland Street, Footscray] offers a rotating display of artistic works, meaning no two visits will ever be the same. Here, the focus is on presenting a year-round stellar calendar of work from local, regional and international communities. It’s a great place to see art in Melbourne at a grassroots level and provides the chance to uncover, support and perhaps even meet some emerging names on Melbourne’s art scene. It’s also the perfect spot to get in touch with your creative side, with a hands-on experience. Previous classes have included life drawing, painting, porcelain hand building and more.
Designed by Walter Burleigh Griffin, the striking Incinerator Gallery [180 Holmes Road, Aberfeldie] building has seen a lot since opening in 1929. The original building functioned as an operating incinerator until being decommissioned in 1942, it deteriorated and remained unused for many years. It then reopened as a community theatre for a short period in the 1980s. Nowadays the heritage-listed building operates as an artistic hub for Melbourne’s inner-west, offering a creative space for viewing and making art. With exhibitions showcasing everything from the talent of high school students in Moonee Valley through to Indigenous Australian art, the varied program means you’re sure to find something that speaks to your interests. The whole family can get involved in creating art at The Incinerator Gallery. It offers programs tailored to little ones, VCE students and adults as well as an awards program that recognises and nurtures local art.
If you enjoy architecture as much as art, then Bundoora Homestead Art Centre [7 Prospect Hill Drive, Bundoora] ticks both boxes. Even if you’re just driving passed, the Queen Anne style architecture of this 1899 mansion is not something that's easy to overlook. It has exhibited a range of works, many of which have featured local portraiture and Victorian landscapes. There are also plenty of opportunities to learn about art-making yourself with classes on offer throughout the year — everything from drawing to knitting — in addition to talks that delve into topics including artworks, art curation and the history of the homestead.