When you’re planning to visit Melbourne you can expect a bevvy of options for things to see and do. Whether you’re looking for culture, art, shopping, scrumptious restaurants to dine in or luxurious accommodations to relax in, Melbourne has it all. There is so much to do even the side streets and lanes are packed with unique boutiques and artwork so there’s never a dull moment anywhere. This is definitely one trip that requires a camera!
Public and Street Art
This free-spirited city is so chock full of art it won’t all fit in the nearly 20 art galleries that dot the metropolis. So in addition to entire buildings full of artistic creations, there are parks and lanes decorated with magnificent sculptures and murals. So check out the Yarra River Gallery, Melbourne Docklands Art Journey, and these points of interest, as well.
This bridge of gigantic steel figures represents thousands of immigrants from around the world coming to the city. There is also a related sculpture affixed to the riverbank as a reminder of the Koorie people and their continued influence. While not located at the original site, the memorial remains true to its intended purpose.
This bluestone sculpture by Petrus Spronk is a great conversation piece and reminder that not all is as it seems. It looks like the remains of an ancient building protruding from the ground but is it really meant to be a piece of history returning to life? Or is it meant to simply be thoughtful whimsy? Enjoy a stroll down this street and you’ll also see a statue of three men waiting for a bus, leaving you wondering how long they have been waiting.
The Great Petition
This huge scroll of rolled steel seems to burst forth from the ground and unroll. It commemorates a smaller version of the original petition of 30,000 names asking for women to have the right to vote. Completed in 2008 by Susan Hewitt and Penelope Lee, the work marks 100 years of women’s suffrage.
The Eureka Tower looks like a hive housing enormous bees, busy at work as the queen supervises. Thankfully they aren’t real bees, though, and are made of anodized aluminum. This creation by Richard Stringer was erected in 2007 and is a perfect representation of teamwork within a densely populated setting. It’s certainly not something you see in most cities and likely won’t forget anytime soon.
Nestled in the heart of the shopping district sits 550 square meters of wall-to-wall graffiti. There are no bars or shops on this little street but people come from all over just to see this famous street art. Started as a mentoring program by 50 young artists in 2007, Union Lane flourishes despite some controversy and continues to inspire folks of all ages.
Bells have always had a meaningful place in history across the globe. They indicated time, worship, weddings, and so much more. These bells, however, serve as both art and music, chiming regularly throughout the day. What makes them even more special is that locals can submit their own original musical musings through the website. Pieces are then chosen and incorporated into the bells’ music program.
If outdoor art isn’t really your thing, that’s okay too! There are plenty of galleries housed in the architectural marvels of Melbourne. Do you have a soft spot for modern art? A passion for aboriginal works? Maybe you like to support local artists. No matter your niché, you’re sure to find something to fall in love with.
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is comprised of two amazing galleries right near each other. NGV International celebrates the splendor of art from around the world, boasting collections of European, Asian, Oceanic, and American art. These pieces now total more than 70,000 all together and the gallery itself has been redesigned to accommodate such large collections. The other gallery, NGV Australia, focuses on intense and diverse temporary art exhibits, displays, films, kids’ programs, live performances, and much more. So check schedules for what’s on during your stay.
Victorian Artists’ Society
This active group of artists and art lovers has been promoting art culture since 1870. The beautiful 19th century Romanesque style building has won awards and was one of the first of its kind in Victoria. Throughout the year you can visit any number of ever-changing exhibits, participate in workshops, and take classes. Come for the architecture, stay for the art, and explore the heritage of some of Australia’s most popular artists.
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
The country’s most premiere art gallery features the top international and Australian artists and is considered to be one of Melbourne’s most highly recommended cultural hubs. The ACCA is recognized internationally for its cutting edge artworks and unique new exhibits. You can attend free lectures, tours, workshops and special events, and is a must-see for anyone who appreciates art and wants to experience art culture at its finest.
Broaden Your Horizons
Looking for something a bit different? Variety is the spice of life, as they say. Here are a couple more unique experiences just waiting for you in Melbourne!
Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Movies have a magical way of taking you out of your surroundings and putting you somewhere completely different. ACMI does that through film, television and culture with Screen Worlds, a free exhibit that’s open year round. Host to the city’s most esteemed and popular film festivals, the ACMI offers screenings of both Australian and international films on the world’s largest screen in state-of-the-art cinemas. You might even run into one of your favorite actors or directors while you’re there!
This small museum is a cornucopia of art, film, and live performances – all with a touch of Greek mythology and history mixed in. Set in the historic Former Royal Mint building, the Hellenic Museum is home to both permanent and temporary collections and hosts events year-round. Currently on exhibit is Gods, Myths & Mortals: Greek Treasures Across the Millennia, which has been on loan from the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece. It provides highlights of 8,000 years of Greek history. Be sure to see what’s going on during your stay and check into any programs and lectures that may be happening, as well.
This is only a smattering of what Melbourne has to offer. This amazing city lives and breathes creativity and imagination from its hidden laneways of boutiques, cafés and jazz bars to its rooftop restaurants, pubs and cinemas. Whatever your pleasure, you’ll find it in Melbourne.
Photo sources – The Travellers, Architectural Fragment, The Great Petition, Queen Bee, Union Lane, Federation Bells, National Gallery of Victoria, Victorian Artists’ Society, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Australian Center for the Moving Image & Hellenic Museum.