Australia’s oldest public art museum is the National Gallery of Victoria, which is set across two locations in Melbourne. It was founded in 1861 and has grown to become one of Australia’s largest institutions dedicated to art, with the NGV International collection on St. Kilda Road and its Australian works in Federation Square’s Ian Pottery Centre.
The NGV International first opened in 1968 and was later redeveloped by Mario Bellini, now being listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. It is renowned for its Great Hall where visitors are encouraged to lay on the floor and admire the colorful stained-glass ceiling. The collection here includes European paintings, photography and textiles, Asian decorative arts, Pacific and Mesoamerican works, as well as global antiquities. It’s particularly noted for its Egyptian artifacts and Greek vases, together with works by Rodin, Degas, Monet, Picasso and Rembrandt.
The Ian Pottery Gallery follows the history of Australian art from early indigenous pieces through to the Heidelberg School and colonial artworks. There is also an impressive collection of contemporary pieces, many of which illustrate the influence of European styles into a distinctly Australian artistic identity. There are celebrated works by John Glover, Hans Heysen and Sidney Nolan, as well as Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale and John Perceval. Highlights of the collection include the large triptych “The Pioneer” by Frederick McCubbin and Tom Roberts' “Shearing the Rams.”
The National Gallery of Victoria also houses the first department dedicated to exclusively to photography in Australia, with its first acquisition being David Moore’s “Surry Hills street”. It has grown to house more than 15,000 works from both Australian and international photographers.