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National Gallery of Australia

Showcase of Art and Culture


George Baldesin pears sculpture

George Baldesin sculpture on the grounds of the National Gallery of Australia

Copyright 2000 Larry Rivera

National Gallery of Australia

  • Location: Parkes Place, Canberra.

  • Opening hours: 10am-5pm daily, except Christmas Day.

  • Admission: Free entry to permanent collection. Special exhibitions may attract an admission fee.

A new wing — and a new, more prominent entrance — added to the National Gallery of Australia opened to the public on October 1, 2010.

The new building is devoted to one of the largest collections of Australian Aboriginal and Islander art.

The building includes 11 new Indigenous art galleries, Gandel Hall — a purpose-built function space — a new expanded shop and sidewalk café.

'Fruits of art'

A group of seven pears which lay on the footpath on the way to the National Gallery of Australia has been moved closer to the building.

To some they may represent the fruits of art that lie within the gallery building: sculptures, paintings, drawings, illuminated text, glass forms...

The pears are the work of George Baldesin (1929-1978) who was born in Italy and lived in Australia from 1949 after having lived and worked in England, Italy, Brazil and France.

Where is the Gallery?

The National Gallery of Australia is in Canberra at the base of the triangle formed by Commonwealth Ave, Kings Ave and Lake Burley Griffin with the Australian Parliament at its apex. It is located at Parkes Place in Parkes just south of the lake.

The gallery building houses permanent and visiting exhibitions covering a wide spectrum of Australian and other countries' art.

When is it open?

The National Gallery is open every day of the year, except Christmas Day, from 10am to 5pm. Special exhibitions may have different opening hours.

Pieces of sculpture

There are a number of sculptures both inside the building and on its grounds.

Located by one of the entrances to the National Gallery building, for instance, is a red and black painted sculpture, La Bobine, which attests to the international character of the art treasures contained within.

La Bobine is a painted steel sculpture made in 1970 by Alexander Calder (1898-1976) of the United States and purchased by the National Gallery in 1972.

There is a Sculpture Garden as well.

Paintings and other art works

Inside the National Gallery are a wide range of paintings and other art works ranging from Aboriginal paintings to those by Australian artists such as Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan and Arthur Stretton.

There are also works by English, European and other painters of the world.

Visiting exhibitions

The touring exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia are a highlight of the Canberra cultural calendar. There is normally a charge to view visiting exhibitions.

In a harking back to the classics, visiting exhibitions have included works by such artists as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Vermeer, Monet, Manet, and even more modern masters such as Picasso.

Contemporary art forms

In 1999, the National Gallery of Art presented an exhibition of the works of American blown-glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.

Chihuly, whose Red Spears was planted in the gardens of Government House in Sydney during the Sydney Festival of 1998, is no stranger to Australia.

Chihuly's glass blown sculptures, in a major Canberra exhibition, show that the National Gallery does not shy away from presenting newer art forms to its public.

In fact, its works of art include not only paintings and sculptures but also prints, drawings, photographs, ceramics, silverware, furniture, fashion, textiles.

The Gallery building

The National Gallery of Australia building was constructed between 1974 and 1982. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on October 12, 1982.

The new wing was opened by Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce on September 30, 2010.

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