As you stroll through the enchanting streets of Melbourne, a world of discovery awaits you. The city’s museum districts beckon with their artistic allure, inviting you to explore their captivating treasures. With each step you take, immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Melbourne’s cultural scene.
Delve into the stories behind renowned masterpieces, engage with cutting-edge digital art installations, and journey through the annals of history and culture. Museums in Melbourne are plentiful, and this remarkable city is graced with some of the finest and most renowned venues and masterpieces in the world.
Join us on this cultural adventure as we unveil our top five list of museums in Melbourne that will ignite your curiosity and inspire your imagination. Prepare to be enthralled as you embark on a personal exploration of Melbourne’s vibrant museum landscape, where artistic wonders and cultural treasures abound.
Melbourne’s Museum Scene: Exploring Melbourne’s Rich Arts and Culture
Melbourne’s museum landscape is a testament to its rich arts and cultural heritage, offering a captivating blend of history, creativity, and innovation. As a guest at InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, you are perfectly positioned to embark on a journey through this vibrant scene, with the city’s iconic museums just moments away from your doorstep on Collins Street.
Here, we take you on a virtual tour of our concierge’s handpicked selection of the best museums in Melbourne, including:
- The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), a breathtaking spectacle gracing the tree-lined St Kilda Road that boasts approximately 70,000 works of art.
- The Lume, a four-storey immersive digital art gallery that transports you to other worlds through its astonishing technological displays.
- The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), the pinnacle of Federation Square and a museum that pays tribute to modern screen culture.
- Melbourne Museum, a haven of natural and cultural history embedded in the lush Carlton Gardens.
- The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, a cutting-edge venue with renowned artworks in Southbank, the heart of the Melbourne Arts Precinct.
Get ready to immerse yourself in the dynamic energy that pulsates through the streets as you navigate through these cultural hubs.
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
St Kilda Road, Southbank
At the heart of Melbourne’s vibrant art scene lies the iconic National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), a cultural institution that beckons art enthusiasts and curious visitors alike.
Step into a world of creativity as you immerse yourself in the impressive collection spanning centuries of artistic expression. The NGV boasts a diverse range of artworks, showcasing both local Australian talent and renowned international artists.
Prepare to be captivated by the masterpieces adorning the walls, from classic paintings that tell stories of bygone eras to contemporary installations that challenge conventional boundaries. Marvel at the skillful brushstrokes, intricate details, and thought-provoking concepts that bring each artwork to life.
NGV Permanent Collection
The NGV’s permanent collection offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of human creativity, encompassing various art forms and movements, including British and European collections spanning the 13th to the 18th Centuries, Japanese Modernism, French Renaissance and Asian Art.
Events and Exhibitions
Alongside the permanent collection are an array of spellbinding exhibits on display at varying times of the year. From immersive otherworldly rooms to world-renowned artworks on tour, you’ll want to plan your trip to the best museum in Melbourne around these exhibitions.
View current and upcoming events here.
If you’re visiting Melbourne on a Friday, we highly recommend attending NGV Friday Nights. This vibrant weekly event hosts various artists throughout the year for a wonderful evening of music and culture in the artistic hub of the city.
The Ian Potter Centre
As you explore the NGV, be sure to visit The Ian Potter Centre, a branch of NGV Australia located in Fed Square. Here, you can delve deeper into the nation’s artistic heritage and witness the evolution of Australian art through a captivating selection of pieces.
From Indigenous art that celebrates ancient traditions to modern interpretations that reflect the diverse cultural landscape, The Ian Potter Centre offers a profound journey through the country’s First Nations artistic legacy.
Beyond its captivating indoor galleries, the NGV boasts an outdoor gallery and garden area that seamlessly integrates art with nature.
Stroll through the beautifully landscaped lawns, where sculptures and installations harmoniously coexist with the lush surroundings. Experience the interplay between art and the natural world as you discover captivating outdoor artworks that evoke emotions and spark conversations.
Convention Centre Pl, South Wharf
Prepare to be transported into a realm where art and technology intertwine, and masterpieces come alive with captivating brilliance at The Lume. This one-of-a-kind museum invites you on an extraordinary journey that transcends traditional boundaries, immersing you in a multi-sensory exploration of renowned artworks.
Step into The Lume and find yourself surrounded by larger-than-life projections that breathe new life into iconic paintings. Through cutting-edge technology, The Lume creates a world where art takes on a new dimension.
One of the best museums in Melbourne, a day at The Lume is not just about observing paintings; it’s about experiencing them on a profoundly immersive level. Engage with the art as you walk through rooms bathed in vibrant colours and mesmerising light displays. Feel the pulsating energy of music that echoes the spirit of each artwork, further amplifying the emotional impact.
What sets The Lume apart is its interactive nature, allowing visitors to engage with the artworks in unprecedented ways. Touch, move, and explore as the art responds to your presence, making each visit a unique and personal experience. Engross yourself in the stories behind the paintings, uncovering the artist’s intentions, techniques, and the historical context that shaped their creations.
Discover current and upcoming exhibits at The Lume.
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Federation Square, Flinders St
Step into the captivating world of film, television, and digital culture at the renowned Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
Standing tall in Fed Square, ACMI offers a captivating exploration of the art and technology behind moving images, making it a must-visit destination for film enthusiasts, history buffs, and art lovers alike.
First Nations on Film
One of the highlights of ACMI is its First Nations collection, a showcase of the rich storytelling traditions and creative achievements of Australia’s First Nations peoples. Through thought-provoking exhibits and curated film screenings, ACMI shines a spotlight on the diverse voices and perspectives that shape Indigenous storytelling.
Delve into the powerful narratives, cultural significance, and contemporary expressions of First Nations on film, gaining a deeper understanding of Australia’s unique heritage.
Cinematography Equipment Through the Ages
For those fascinated by the technical aspects of filmmaking, ACMI offers an immersive journey through the evolution of cinematography equipment.
Marvel at vintage cameras, projectors, and other equipment, tracing the technological advancements that have revolutionised how we experience film and television.
Discover the vibrant world of Australian animation at ACMI, where imagination and creativity come to life. Engage with interactive exhibits that showcase the artistry and innovation behind beloved animated films and TV shows.
Uncover the behind-the-scenes magic, from character design and storytelling to the intricate process of stop-motion animation.
Whether you’re a fan of iconic Australian animations or curious about the craft, ACMI offers a captivating exploration of this unique art form.
ACMI Cinema Screenings
No visit to ACMI is complete without experiencing the magic of cinema in their state-of-the-art theatres. Catch screenings of classic films, independent gems, and cutting-edge works from around the globe.
ACMI’s cinema screenings provide an opportunity to discover new cinematic voices, celebrate cinematic masterpieces, and engage in thought-provoking discussions through post-screening Q&A sessions.
View current and upcoming ACMI events, talks, exhibits, festivals and workshops.
Nicholson St, Carlton
Enter a slice of preserved natural history as you begin your immersive journey through this expansive venue that certainly makes the list of museums in Melbourne to visit.
Melbourne Museum is a treasure trove of knowledge, offering a comprehensive exploration of Melbourne’s natural and cultural history. With its diverse range of exhibits, Melbourne Museum invites visitors to delve into the depths of anthropology, science, and history.
Perhaps the pinnacle of Melbourne Museum is its lush Forest Gallery. Step through the glass doors into a vibrant gully adorned with towering eucalyptus trees, verdant ferns, and rare plant species.
Breathe in the refreshing mist-filled air and inhale the earthy scent that permeates the atmosphere, while delighting in the melodious songs of avian inhabitants found nowhere else in the city.
Much like a living forest, the Forest Gallery undergoes a mesmerising transformation throughout the seasons, with nesting birds, blooming flowers, fruitful fungi, and ripening berries painting a vivid tapestry of nature’s cycle.
The Melbourne Museum offers a mesmerising exploration of the 17 incredible skeletons from the land before time in its Dinosaur Walk exhibit. Immerse yourself in the wonders of the prehistoric era as you come face-to-face with the awe-inspiring skeletons of dinosaurs and ancient megafauna.
Through animated recreations and larger-than-life exhibits, witness the ancient existence of these creatures as they roamed countless years ago. Explore the tactile experience of dinosaur teeth to gain insights into their dietary habits and feel the weight of a 25-tonne sauropod’s thigh bone.
Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of these majestic beings by walking amidst, underneath, and through their skeletal remains, all while receiving expert knowledge from the dedicated scientists who study them.
Explore the fascinating world of the Earth’s structure through a vast collection of geological specimens in the Dynamic Earth gallery.
Delve into the realm of rare and exquisite minerals, impressive uncut diamonds, and gleaming gold nuggets, gaining insights into the conditions that fostered their formation.
Uncover the geological forces that shape our planet, from the transformative powers of immense heat and pressure to the dynamic movements of tectonic plates that give rise to majestic mountains.
Engage with the exhibits on a tactile level as you touch ropey lava sourced from Hawaii and the ancient ocean floor that dates back 2.5 billion years.
As you wander through the museum’s spacious halls, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the stunning architecture and design. The building itself is a work of art, seamlessly blending contemporary elements with historical charm.
Melbourne Museum is nestled within the picturesque Carlton Gardens, providing a serene and picturesque backdrop for your exploration and the perfect opportunity to wander the gardens after your visit.
Explore current and upcoming exhibits at Melbourne Museum.
The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
Sturt St, Southbank
For those seeking cutting-edge contemporary art, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) is a must-visit.
This dynamic space showcases thought-provoking and boundary-pushing works by emerging and established artists. Stroll through its ever-evolving exhibitions and engage with the diverse range of artistic expressions that challenge conventional norms.
Striking Exhibitions That Speak Volumes
Unlike traditional art galleries and museums, ACCA does not host permanent collections in its modern walls; rather, it brings various exhibits of all different flavours, styles and voices on a roving basis.
Past exhibitions have included site-responsive dance performance installations, abstract technological installations that marry sculpture with media, time-based sculptures comprising wax, wick and flame, and entire artistic works that blend design, mixed media, collage, banners and life-sized displays.
What sets ACCA apart is its unapologetic and even fierce portrayal of a myriad of voices speaking about a whirlwind of important ideas. Whether social, cultural, historic, political or religious, ACCA’s artworks and exhibitions pack a punch in their incredible messages and depth of value.
Supporting Local and International Artists
ACCA has built a distinguished reputation for its commitment to fostering and advancing the careers of contemporary artists. The institution actively promotes and supports artists in creating innovative, daring, and exploratory artwork that pushes boundaries, stimulates fresh ideas, and engages with diverse communities, sparking connections and resonance.
Insider’s Guide: Navigating Melbourne’s Museum Landscape
To make the most of your museum adventure, our concierge has provided some expert insider tips to enhance your experience and make enjoying museums in Melbourne that much better:
- Plan your visit: Check museum websites for opening hours, special exhibitions, and any ticketing requirements.
- Take a guided tour: Many museums offer guided tours led by knowledgeable experts who can provide valuable insights and enhance your understanding of the exhibits.
- Engage with interactive displays: Don’t be afraid to interact with the exhibits and take part in hands-on activities. This immersive approach adds another layer of enjoyment and understanding.
- Capture memories: Take photographs (where permitted) to capture your favourite moments and artworks. Share them with friends and family to spread the joy of your museum experience.
- Explore beyond the exhibitions: Many museums host special events, workshops, and lectures that offer a deeper dive into various subjects. Keep an eye out for these additional opportunities to enrich your museum visit.
- Take breaks and refuel: Museums can be extensive, so take breaks to rest and refuel at the museum cafes or nearby eateries. Enjoy a cup of coffee or a delicious meal to recharge before continuing your exploration.
Getting Around Melbourne
When it comes to exploring Melbourne’s vibrant museum landscape, navigating the city is a breeze with its efficient public transportation system. Here are some essential tips to help you get around Melbourne and make the most of your museum-hopping adventure.
- Trams: Melbourne is renowned for its iconic tram network, and hopping aboard a tram is not only a convenient way to travel but also a quintessential Melbourne experience. The city’s Free Tram Zone allows you to ride within the CBD without a fare, making it perfect for exploring the museum district. Trams 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 16, 64, 67, and 72 traverse Swanston Street, which is close to many of the featured museums.
- Trains: Melbourne’s train network connects various suburbs to the city centre, providing easy access to museums and other attractions. Flinders Street Station, located in the heart of the CBD, is a major transportation hub. From here, you can catch a train to destinations such as the Melbourne Museum and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.
- Buses: Buses are another convenient option for getting around Melbourne. They cover a wide range of routes and can take you to destinations not served by trams or trains, passing by many popular attractions including the National Gallery of Victoria.
- Proximity to Museums: InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, located on Collins Street, is conveniently close to several of Melbourne’s top museums. The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is a short tram ride away, with tram stops located on Swanston Street just a few minutes from the hotel. The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is within walking distance from Federation Square, which is also easily accessible via tram or a short stroll from the hotel. Melbourne Museum and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art are easily reachable by tram or train from various locations in the CBD.
- Additional Tips: To make your travel experience more seamless, consider getting a Myki card, which is Melbourne’s public transport ticketing system. It allows you to easily tap on and off trams, trains, and buses. The Myki Explorer pack is a great option for tourists as it includes a preloaded card and discounts to various attractions, including some of Melbourne’s museums. Remember to check the timetable and any service disruptions before embarking on your journey, as there may be occasional track works or schedule changes.
More Arts and Culture Gems
As you immerse yourself in Melbourne’s museum scene, don’t miss out on the surrounding cultural attractions that make for a perfect day of artistic exploration.
Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque Carlton Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site, or wander through the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria with its sprawling lush lawns and endless garden sites.
Stop at the awe-inspiring Shrine of Remembrance and pay homage to soldiers past and present, their stories and lives preserved in the astonishing architectural displays and immersive gallery at the top of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Marvel at the architectural grandeur of the Royal Exhibition Building, a testament to Melbourne’s rich history and an undeniable spectacle of Melbourne’s marvellous ‘boom-style’ architecture.
Take a seat at Melbourne Theatre Company’s Southbank theatre for a night of unrivalled stage entertainment by world-class actors and theatre makers, and don’t forget to stop at one (or more) of the many delicious restaurants lining the streets.
Stay in the Cultural Capital of Australia
Museums in Melbourne offer a gateway into a world of art, history, and culture. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, or simply curious about the wonders of the world, these top 5 museums provide captivating experiences that will ignite your imagination and leave a lasting impression.
Stay with us in the heart of Collins Street to enjoy easy access to all of the best museums in Melbourne. Reserve your guest room or suite here to begin your journey through the arts capital of the country.