National Art Gallery Canberra,

National Portrait Gallery

The new national art gallery Canberra, the National Portrait Gallery houses a collection of inspiring portraits of famous Australians.

This museum is one of the things to see in Canberra. It has an interesting collection that provides an overview of Australia's past and present.

All that, through artistic representation of various people that had a say in the evolution of the country.

It is not only a collection of faces but of the stories behind the men and women that contributed to build the Australian individuality as we know it today. It includes paintings, photography, sculpture, video, prints.

The institution of an Australian portraits museum is not new but the building is. It was inaugurated in December 2008.

Previously the portraits were on display at the Old Parliament House. But there was a need for a new national art gallery. Canberra was the best place to house it, along with its other museums.

The idea of collecting the portraits belongs to Tom Roberts, one of the Australian painters of the late 19th and early 20th century. He came up with it at the beginning of 1900s, but it was about 90 years later that the Darlings family pulled together the "Uncommon Australians: Towards an Australian Portrait Gallery" exhibition in Canberra.

national art gallery canberra - national portraits gallery

National Portrait Gallery Collection

Since then the collection continued to grow with various portraits and sculptures of people, Australian or associated to Australia, most famous, others not so, but still having contributed in some way to the identity of the country:

  • Indigenous Australians, from artists such as Albert Namatjira, to poets, to rights campaigners;
  • from James Cook, who claimed Australia for the British Empire to Dame Nellie Melba, who was a pioneer of the Australian opera;
  • from early settlers to Jorn Utzon, who designed the Sydney Opera House;
  • from sports people, such as Cathy Freeman or Ian Thorpe who contributed to olympic Australian success, to royalty, such as Australian born Princess Mary of Denmark.

Visiting this Canberra Art Gallery

The building is located next to the National Gallery of Australia and the High Court, at King Edward Terrace, Parkes.

The gallery organises free tours everyday, at 11.30 and 2.30.They cater to families with children and show them around on weekends and school holidays.

There are various workshops for children, where they can learn some basic creative skills. There are also lectures and classes for adults who want to broaden their cultural knowledge or roll up their sleeves and learn how to express themselves with the brush.

nation portrait gallery canberra entrace

For more information on events, timing and resources check the official website -

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