National Gallery Victoria

Last time we were in Melbourne we dedicated most of a day to trawling through this amazing gallery. This time, close on the heels of the most exhausting academic year of my life, I prioritised vintage shopping over artistic education. But still, I couldn’t resist dropping by.

I should mention that the gallery is immense, and free, and holds some absolute treasures of international art. If you are ever in Melbourne, do go. For this young kiwi, particular highlights of my last visit were the Asian Collection (including some amazing fabric and costume) and the Medieval Collection (featuring some first-class creepy medieval babies).

This time I only picked two collections: the contemporary and the ancient. Unfortunately, neither of these take well to photography. Some highlights of the contemporary collection were sculptures and furniture which can’t really be translated in a blog post, and nor can some other phenomenal installations I saw which included sound or video. You’ll just have to go and have a look at those yourself. Here is a taster, to encourage you.


The ancient collection is very small compared to the others in the gallery, which is to be expected given it’s an Australian art gallery. That said, it was still far more extensive than any I’ve ever seen. My half-hour there was very happily spent spotting famous names I memorised throughout my Classical Studies degree, and attempting to get photographs which accurately preserved the stunning beauty of the huge black-figure amphorae there.

I failed in the latter, so I will have to present these photos with the demand that you imagine these with the glaze more glossy, the lines more crisp, the reds and washes brighter and the incredible textural detail considerably more stunning.

If you want to see all the things I didn’t photograph – the wonderful video installations in the Contemporary section, the beautiful Oriental and Geometric period Greek vases, the late Italian red-figure amphorae, the Monets and Chinese ceramics and calligraphy and medieval triptychs in other parts of the Gallery – you’ll have to make your own visit there.




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