Art Gallery of New South Wales: A must-see for art connoisseurs and casual enthusiasts alike.
Founded in 1880, The Art Gallery of New South Wales is the largest public gallery in Sydney and is placed at fourth position in Australia for the size of its diverse and exhaustive collections. Located at the eastern edge of Sydney central business district, nestled between scenic parklands the gallery is only a short walk away from the botanical gardens and the opera house. Housed in a building designed in the conservative classical tradition by the colonial architect Walter Liberty Vernon, the gallery is strategically placed near the other big tourist attractions in Sydney.
The gallery has a simple mission, to acquire and display the finest pieces of art available, with a special emphasis on Australian art and it has succeeded admirably at that task. Its permanent collection of more than twenty nine thousand items, the entry for which is free, covers a large spectrum of collections ranging from Australian, Aboriginal, Asian, European, Contemporary, Photography and a combined collection of prints, drawing and water colors.
The Australian collection portrays the evolution of Australian culture and the changing impressions of the Australians about their heritage in the last two centuries of European settlement. It contains the works of influential artists like Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale, Grace Cossington Smith and a host of other notable contemporaries.
The Aboriginal gallery which is also called the Yiribana gallery has been dedicated to the permanent display of Torres Strait islander and Aboriginal art and also hosts a changing exhibition. The Asian collection covers a diverse set of traditions ranging from South, East and Southeast Asia and containing Hindu and Buddhist artefacts and a host of other treasures like Chinese pottery and samurai swords from ancient Japan.
The European collection is housed in the Old Courts and contains a truly diverse range of works dating from the fifteenth to the early twentieth century and contains a collection of Victorian and Edwardian paintings. Also displayed are works by European masters like Reubens, Rodin, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Braque and Giacometti to name a few.
The contemporary art section hosts the collections of both Australian and other international artists from our time and emphasizes the artistic themes of the last few decades. The photography section contains mostly Australian works from the earliest examples to the most modern ones. The final section of the permanent collection hosts more than twelve thousand prints, drawings and watercolors from diverse traditions ranging from traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e prints to old European masters.
Apart from the free permanent collections and free guided tours in many languages, there are a host of temporary exhibits like last year’s Picasso gallery, the yearly Archibald prize show and the upcoming America: Painting a Nation which are all well worth the nominal fee they charge from visitors.
The spacious galleries and interesting architecture provide a serene atmosphere for visitors to spend their time studying the various collections and if you are in the mood for some refreshments the gallery contains an award winning restaurant. So if you ever find yourself in Sydney, the art gallery of New South Wales should definitely have a place on your list of places to visit.
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