Canberra is blessed with a vibrant arts scene, complete with cultural institutions exclusive to the capital and an array of other creative galleries. Each is unique and the diversity stimulating. In the capital, you’ll find small galleries run by independent artists themselves. You’ll also discover massive government-run institutions.
No matter what your taste, it’s worth introducing yourself to a range of stunning art.
In this article, we’ll outline the qualities to consider when choosing art galleries to visit, and share where to find the best in Canberra.
What makes a great art gallery?
With such a large number of art galleries in Canberra, selecting the right ones to visit can be challenging.
When choosing an art gallery it can be helpful to keep the following in mind:
- Style of art. While it’s worth exploring all styles of art, time might prevent you from doing so. In this case, research galleries online. Choose those offering the type of art you’re most interested in.
- Location. Some galleries are centrally located and have plenty of parking. Others are dispersed. Your best bet is to check public transportation and convenience.
- Cost. Most galleries are free. Some charge an entry fee for special temporary exhibitions or blockbusters. Head to gallery websites for details.
- Facilities. Some larger galleries take time to explore. If you’re intending to spend several hours exploring, check if the gallery has food and beverage offerings. It’s always nice to settle into a café when you want a break.
- Accessibility. If you have special accessibility or other needs, such as a wheelchair or audio equipment, research what a gallery offers. Most have details online. Also ask about group visits.
The best art galleries in Canberra
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Margaret Dimoff Art Gallery is the largest commercial contemporary art gallery in Canberra, featuring more than 400 original works of art (no reproductions). Showcasing the work of well-known artist, Margaret Dimoff, the gallery features large canvases, works on paper, pottery and metal sculptures. Visitors marvel at Margaret’s bold and beautiful large-scale, sophisticated abstract paintings (oil and mix media) and smaller-scale works on paper, usually framed under glass.
A highly talented South Coast artist, Margaret graduated from ANU in Ceramics in 1983 and Sculpture in 1992. She paints predominantly abstract works mostly using acrylic and oils on canvas or paper. The multiple award-winning artist has held many solo exhibitions. Since 1986, she has also exhibited in many group exhibitions in the ACT, NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
At Margaret Dimoff Art Gallery are large canvasses measuring 120 cm x 170 cm, perfect for decorating large walls. Other sized paintings are also available.
On the corner of Grey Street and Hopetoun Circuit in Deakin (former premises of the Solander Gallery), Margaret Dimoff Art Gallery holds special events, so it is worth signing up to the database through the website.
At Margaret Dimoff Art Gallery, buyers pay artist prices (no commissions). The gallery has a no-obligation, one-week, free trial of Margaret’s art in homes (free delivery). Corporate hire is available, and buyers can shop online. Hanging services are available.
On Google, Tanya Stoianoff wrote, “Talented artist generating works with superb composition, colour and textures. Highly recommended for finding that perfect piece to enhance a room.”
Canberra Glassworks is an Australian gallery and a glass art studio open to the public to view dedicated glass artists working in contemporary glass art, craft and design. It’s the largest dedicated glass studio facility in Australia. Situated in the historic Kingston Power House, Canberra Glassworks has spacious industrial cathedral interiors.
Toby Halligan wrote on Google, “Charming gallery with the opportunity to tour the behind the scenes of a glass blowing works.”
Scott Leggo Gallery showcases photos by one of Australia’s leading landscape photographers. Scott Leggo has received over 100 international and Australian awards. His expressive photographs capture the beauty of the country’s landscape. The gallery features wall art, desk blocks, cards, jigsaws and a coffee table book of Scott’s work.
On Google, Aaron Khoo wrote, “If you’re after a quality print of some of Australia's most beautiful locations, make sure you check out the galley.”
The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is the country’s national visual arts institution. The NGA is dedicated to collecting, sharing and celebrating art from Australia and internationally. It is home to the most valuable collection of art in the world—more than 155,000 works. The NGA has the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Admission is free.
Shaun Shrimpton wrote on Google, “Great gallery, interesting exhibitions, lots of First Nations art which is stunning.”
Beaver Galleries is Canberra’s largest and longest-established privately owned commercial art gallery. It exhibits the work of a select group of renowned and emerging contemporary Australian artists. Beaver Galleries has a national presence, a dynamic exhibition program and regular representation at Australian art fairs. Galleries are spacious and there is a courtyard sculpture garden and a gallery shop.
Ima Birchall wrote on Google, “I liked the spacious light filled rooms with curated art pieces by highly qualified artists.”
If you’re looking for more information on other stimulating things to do in Canberra, you might like our articles on the top 10 Canberra places to take visiting family and friends, the best tours in Canberra, the best wine tours in Canberra, and the best skydiving and adventure activities Canberra has to offer.
Your experience with art galleries in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the art galleries listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of art galleries are in Canberra?
Canberra is home to many art galleries, large and small. You’ll find national cultural institutions (not found anywhere else in Australia), territory-run galleries and privately run galleries. The range of art is amazing. Some galleries have a wide range of art and others specialise in one artist or in Indigenous art.
How much does it cost to go to an art gallery in Canberra?
Many art galleries are free, including national cultural institutions. Having said that, some charge for special openings, blockbusters or specific exhibitions.
Are art galleries appropriate for families?
Many are. Indeed, some have areas designed specifically for families and even areas designed for young ones to play and learn about art.
Can I get tours at art galleries?
Many galleries offer tours or audio equipment so you can self-guide through art collections. Some galleries even have artists on hand to talk about their work. It's a fantastic way to meet the artists direct.
Where are galleries located in Canberra?
Art galleries are scattered around the capital, some in the Parliamentary precinct. Most are easily accessible by public transport or taxi.