Australia’s Largest Public Gallery – NGV International

March 3, 2009 Blog 2 comments


Last Sunday, I decided to make a trip down to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) International at St Kilda Road, having heard so many wonderful things about it. What I experienced was truly inspiring, and I spent more than three hours wandering and exploring its fascinating and sprawling galleries occupying three storeys. The scale of this attraction rivalled that of the Melbourne Museum, another masterfully built museum.

Established back in 1861, NGV International is the oldest and most sizable public art gallery in Australia (and most probably the Southern Hemisphere). Located in the arts and leisure precinct in Southbank of Melbourne, it has a significant collection of about 63,000 artworks and artefacts. They include artworks from masters like Rembrandt, as well as ancient collections from Pre-Colombian America, Egypt, Rome and parts of Asia. The gallery has a sister museum – The Ian Potter Centre of NGV Australia at Federation Square – which focuses on Australian art. Due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to visit that but I’ll definitely make a date to patronise it soon.
The best thing about visiting NGV International? Admission is FREE and you can take photographs (without flash).

Vertical banners like this tell you what temporary exhibitions are currently running. In this case, it was an exhibition on the Bugatti brothers. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Bugatti?

…was it chairs like this? Surprisingly, the Bugatti brothers were great designers and artists, creating beautiful artistic furniture pieces like this.

Of course, the sleek limousines were the main draw at that gallery!

I moved on next to the museum’s collections of Pre-Columbian artefacts on display like these pieces from either Aztec, Incan or Mayan civilisations…

…gazed at Egyptian artefacts like this inner sarcophagus here…

…and ogled at this noble looking bust of an ancient Roman dignitary from classical times.

Some of the artworks were of a more aboriginal and modern origin, like these hailing from Papua New Guinea.

The most memorable moment for me was experiencing this piece of video art by the brilliant video artist Bill Viola. “Ocean with a shore” was both sad and mesmerising in its execution.

On the second level gallery, I chanced upon NGV’s Asian Art Collections which were closer to those I am familiar with back at home in the Asian Civilisations Museum. These Chinese porcelain pieces were intricately painted and beautiful.

So was this Indian statue of a Bodhisattva with many arms and faces.

I next ventured into the temporary exhibition on Animals in Asian Art, which seemed to have some parallels with ACM’s Fantastic Creatures. Both were geared towards kids.

To appeal to children, captions have to be kept simple and lively like this one here.

These skinny dragons reminded me of the Disney movie “Mulan”. Do you remember that small itty bitty dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy called Mushu? Doesn’t he look like one of these?

This octopus shaped helmet was apparently used by a Samurai warrior during feudal times in Japan.

What’s great about the exhibition on Asian beasts was this corner where kids can doodle and play with their parents. A great way to capture their attention!

On my way up, I spotted this installation artwork by Sarah Sze, which was surprisingly well explained without going too deep.

Galleries on the upper levels were full of European artworks. This gallery focused on European art decor items which commonly featured on furniture and other displays.

19th century European works of art hailing from the Renaissance and Post Renaissance period featured in a couple of rooms. Most of the artists appeared to be English, which was interesting considering that the Renaissance was more closely associated with Italy.

This painting by Clarkson Stanfield caught my attention. It depicted the tumultous oceans and brewing storm in a very realistic and detailed manner. You could almost hear the wind howl.

Over at the gallery covering 17th Century Dutch and Flemish art, I chanced upon this artwork showing a bouquet of flowers. It had such detail that you could tell each individual species of flowers apart from each other.

The greatest artist being featured at the NGV was Rembrandt, the most influential Dutch painter during his time. This is one of his iconic pieces of artwork.

Moving forward a few hundred years is a modern lifestyle exhibition called Remaking Fashion, which featured significant feminine frocks like this one from John Galliano from the house of Christian Dior.

I also viewed contemporary artworks like this one, which showed a broom next to a print of a broom and dictionary definition of it. Don’t ask me to explain this one!

Of course, other contemporary pieces were instantly recognisable, like this one of foremost pop artist Andy Warhol.

To aid museum guests in their journeys, interactive terminals like this provided useful information on each exhibition.

A well-stocked retail outlet provided relevant merchandise for one to indulge in some shopping.

You can also choose to have some food or wine at the cafe here, which was well patronised.

Acknowledging one’s donors and benefactors is a must in any cultural institution, and NGV has done its fair share of this.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


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