Indulge in Culture at these Canberra Art Galleries
A Guide to Canberra Art Galleries
Canberra is known as one of the cultural epicentres of Australia, being home to some of the country’s most renowned museums, landmarks and art galleries.
Housing the works of homegrown, international, established and emerging artists in spaces big and small, explore our round-up of must-visit galleries as you take a whirlwind cultural tour of Canberra.
National Gallery of Australia
The National Gallery of Australia is the pinnacle of culture in Canberra, displaying over 150,000 works created by more than 15,000 artists, including the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Open for over 20 years, the gallery’s collection is a display of both Australian art and modern art from Europe, America, Asia and the Pacific.
After exploring the works within this iconic Canberra art gallery, be sure to take a wander through the not-to-be-missed Sculpture Garden.
Visit the National Gallery of Australia, Open 7 day a week, 10am – 5pm
National Portrait Gallery
The next stop on your Canberra cultural tour has to be the National Portrait Gallery, located on King George Terrace. A haven for art lovers, the National Portrait Gallery showcases the wide-ranging people and artists who have helped shape our national identity.
Offering gallery tours that explore the many portraits on display, and an array of workshops, talks, lectures, film screenings and plenty of family activities, the National Portrait Gallery is free and open to the public and is a must-visit destination in Canberra.
Visit the National Portrait Gallery, Open 7 day a week, 10am – 5pm
Canberra Museum and Gallery
Canberra Museum and Gallery, located in Canberra CBD, provides the ultimate culture fix with an array of exhibitions displaying the works of artists from around Australia. From curator talks, youth programmes and creative workshops to unique art exhibitions and events, Canberra Museum and Gallery is a cultural highlight not to be missed.
The gallery is also home to The Nolan Collection, an impressive collection of Sidney Nolan paintings featuring photographs and original text that follow Nolan’s creative journey to becoming one of Australia’s leading artists of the 20th Century.
Visit Canberra Museum and Gallery, Open Mon-Sat 10am – 5pm
Gallery of Small Things
In a space, less than 6 square metres in size, the Gallery of Small Things is tiny in itself. Although small, the intimate gallery packs quite the creative punch, showcasing the works of artists and makers from Canberra and beyond.
The gallery, located in the leafy suburb of Watson in Canberra, displays a variety of disciplines from paintings, photography and print media to textiles, ceramics and jewellery. Founder and Director Anne Masters also conducts workshops to support and mentor creatives to become confident, professional practising artists.
Visit the Gallery of Small Things, Open Thurs–Sun, 11am–4pm
Beaver Galleries, located near the Royal Australian Mint, is the largest and longest-established privately owned commercial art gallery in Canberra, boasting an impressive collection of well known and emerging contemporary Australian artists.
The nationally-recognised space features works in varying mediums, from sculpture and painting to printmaking, ceramics and glass. Once you have completed a thorough perusal through the gallery, the shop is the perfect pitstop on your way out, with a stunning collection of handcrafted products made by Australian designers and creators. Discover the perfect Canberra keepsake amongst the shop’s collection of ceramics, jewellery, glassware and more.
Visit Beaver Galleries, Open Tues–Sat, 10am–5pm
Drill Hall Gallery
Once a training facility for soldiers during WWII, heritage-listed Drill Hall has since been converted into one of the most beautiful galleries in Canberra, showcasing the works of local and international artists. Part of the Australian National University, Drill Hall exhibitions are often developed in partnership with the university’s scholars leading to thought-provoking landmark exhibitions accompanied by scholarly publications.
One of the gallery’s major draw cards is Sidney Nolan’s iconic 9-panel panorama, Riverbend (nominated among the ten must-see art treasures of Canberra), which is on permanent display in the Riverbend Room.
Visit Drill Hall Gallery, Open Wed-Sun, 10am–5pm
Located just a few minutes from the city, Canberra Glassworks is not your average Canberra art gallery. The professional glassmaking facility is dedicated to artists working in contemporary glass art, craft and design and is the perfect place for those who love to get a behind the scenes peek into how glasswork is created.
Glassworks is known for its experimental and innovative exhibitions—displaying the works of contemporary Australian artists. But the facility also gives visitors the chance to see resident artists at work, transforming molten glass, developing unique projects and working on large-scale commissions. Not only that, but visitors can also take an experience or heritage tour or book a workshop to learn the art of glass blowing, engraving, casting and more.
Visit Canberra Glassworks, Open Wed to Sun 10am to 4pm.
Canberra Contemporary Art Space
With a prime position on Queen Elizabeth Terrace, Canberra Contemporary Art Space has been a pioneer in Australia’s contemporary art movement. Since the early 80s, CCAS has played host to some of the finest contemporary exhibitions showcasing a variety of artistic disciplines and work created by artists both inside and outside of the ACT.
While hosting a range of exhibitions, the space is also known for its performances, artists’ talks, public programs and publications—cultivating a collaborative and supportive spirit within the creative community.
Visit Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Open Fri-Sun 11am – 5pm.
Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres
The Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres are located in twin heritage-listed buildings in the heart of Canberra. While live music and performance are a key focus, the centre’s creative program spans all art forms, including experimental and emerging arts practices. The centres are home to beautiful exhibition spaces, lecture theatres, concert halls, landscaped gardens and creative co-working spaces.
After a long day of Canberra gallery wandering, the centre’s concert series can provide the perfect musical interlude, while the charming Mint Garden Bar is great for a pre-concert classic cocktail, wine or boutique beer.
Visit Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, Open 7 days a week.
Where to Stay in Canberra to Visit Art Galleries
Top of the list of places to stay in Canberra to visit all the art galleries Canberra has to offer has to be Ovolo Nishi— a luxurious boutique hotel located in the heart of the capital. The hotel, located near Commonwealth Park, provides the perfect base to explore the city’s galleries, museums and historic landmarks.
For longer stays in the city, Nishi Apartments by Ovolo Nishi, located in the NewActon precinct, provides the ultimate apartment stay in Canberra. Each apartment features original artworks, thoughtfully repurposed vintage furnishings, kitchen, laundry and luxury amenities. To round off your cultural tour of the city, the hotel is also home to Nishi Gallery which presents a cross section of items from the Molonglo Art and Objects Collection.