When you think about Sydney’s attractions, art – admittedly – is perhaps not the first thing that springs to mind. Of course, the city is known for its golden beaches and sweltering sunshine, but I believe it’s also a wonderful destination for art lovers.
With dozens of galleries and museums dotted all over Sydney, I don’t think you’ll struggle to incorporate a little culture into your holiday, and an afternoon of taking in world-class art will certainly be a fun alternative to lazing about in the sunshine.
If you’ve got a passion for modern paintings or want to learn more about Aboriginal culture, you’ll easily find institutions that appeal to you. To find out more about some of the best places for art lovers in Sydney to visit, read on.
Museum of Sydney
As you’ll have probably guessed from its name, the Museum of Sydney is dedicated to telling the story of the city and its residents from its origins right through to the modern day.
Open every day of the week, with the exception of Christmas Day and Good Friday, I think it’s pretty easy to incorporate a trip here into your break down under and, with everything from colonial-era artefacts to multimedia installations on display, you’ll definitely come across something you’ll love.
Perhaps one of the most interesting pieces on show, though, is the Edge of the Trees sculpture that is situated close to the entrance. Built by Fiona Foley and Janet Laurence, this terrific piece consists of 29 pillars inscribed with the names of local Aboriginal tribes and is an interpretation of the first meeting between the natives and the initial group of settlers who arrived from Britain in the 18th century.
The museum is built on the site of the country’s first Government House, which was constructed in 1788, and by heading to its forecourt you can see the remaining foundations of this historic property.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Although it should be no surprise that the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) exhibits contemporary works of art, I think you will be astounded by the range and quality of pieces that are on display.
The MCA’s permanent collection is dedicated to showcasing the best of Australian artists, including those of Aboriginal descent and painters from the Torres Strait Islands. Here, you can see works by the likes of Simon Yates and James Angus, although the museum also hosts an array of temporary exhibits, so there will be something new for you to see with every visit.
Mexican-Canadian electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and New Zealand’s Michael Stevenson are just two of those to have had collections showcased at the MCA in recent months, so coming here offers a great opportunity to gain an understanding of developments in the international art world, as well as the local scene.
While the Museum of Sydney and the MCA are two of Sydney’s biggest and most popular museums, I think it’s worth checking out what some of the city’s smaller galleries have to offer. These tend to focus on a particular area of art, with White Rabbit in the city’s Chippendale district enabling you to take in contemporary Chinese art.
The work of more than 200 painters, sculptors and other artists (including Jing Zhiyong and Ai Weiwei) are displayed here and after you’ve finished wandering through the exhibits you can visit the onsite teahouse for a refreshing hot drink and snack on traditional Chinese dumplings.