The Art Gallery of NSW is the main Sydney art gallery. Australian, Asian and European art with an interesting Aboriginal art collection. Free entry.
Especially interesting for its collection of Australian art – both indigenous and non – the AGNSW is open every day except Christmas day and Good Friday.
Opening hours are from 1000-1700 (10am-5pm). On Wednesday evenings the gallery stays open until 2100 (9pm).
Australian Aboriginal Art
The Art Gallery of New South Wales holds an excellent collection of traditional and modern Aboriginal art.
The Sydney art gallery will give you good benchmarks for all the styles of Aboriginal art that you’re likely to come across.
Both Art Gallery guided (see below), and self-guided audio, tours of the Aboriginal collection are available.
Contemporary Landscape Art
At least partly thanks to the annual Wynne and Sulman landscape art prizes, there is a thriving contemporary landscape art scene in Australia.
The Sydney Art Gallery collection shows the progression from traditional to contemporary landscape art in Australia. You see the lightening and brightening of the palette, the shift from an idealised, soft English landscape to one much more influenced by our harsher light and, latterly, by Aboriginal art.
If you can find some of Fred Williams’ work (the gallery has quite a bit) you’ll see where white Australia first met Aboriginal landscape painting. Williams was one of the most influential contemporary landscape art painters in Australia. It was his art that first taught me, and many others, how to really ‘see’ the Australian landscape.
The gallery regularly hosts temporary exhibitions. Check the web for details.
Many are free. If it’s ticketed you can buy tickets online which will give you express entry without queuing.
Tickets price varies with the exhibition.
They range from around AUD $10 (adult) for locally based exhibitions – the Archibald (portraits), Wynne and Sulman (contemporary landscape art) prize exhibitions – through AUD $20 to $30 for imported blockbusters (Picasso masterpieces etc).
Concession tickets are available to Australian seniors and pensioners.
Children and students usually pay around three quarters of adult price. There’s always a family ticket option (for two adults and up to three children) where you pay for two adults and only the first child.
Sydney Art Gallery Tours
There are tours of all descriptions to help you make the most of your visit.
Every special exhibition has self-guided audio tours. These are available for hire (charges apply) at the ticket desk.
Other self-guided audio tours for hire (charges apply) include a Kids’ Tour, Director’s Choice and Curator’s Insights tours. You can also download these and others for free .
If you prefer a guided tour with one of the AGNSW volunteer guides, check the website or at the information desk for the specific times tours are given for that particular exhibition.
Tours of the permanent exhibition:
- Collection highlights
- Daily 1100 (11am) except Monday,
- 1300 (1pm)
- 1400 (2pm)
- Thursday 1100 (11am)
- Tuesday 1100 (11am)
- Friday 1100 (11am)
- Last sunday of each month except December, 1330 (1.30pm)
- Aboriginal art
- Daily 1300 (1pm)
- Asian art
- Tuesday-Sunday 1200 (12 noon)
- Contemporary art
- Wednesday, Friday, Sunday 1200 (12 noon)
Worksheets for Kids
The Sydney art gallery offers many things to do with kids.
The gallery has an Auslan-interpreted performance for kids at 1430 (2.30pm) on the last Sunday of each month, except December. And it runs programs for children with an intellectual disability – contact the gallery for more information on these.
There’s an audio kids tour for hire (ages 5-12). Even better, children can have fun exploring, and making art of their own, on the children’s trail.
Pick up the free worksheets for kids at the Sydney Art Gallery information desk. They’re in the form of several small, colourful foldout booklets. Collect a free pencil as well and you’re good to go to discover the artworks. (You can also download the work sheets from the website as a pdf file).
Different booklets lead to different galleries. Discover one or visit them all.
For the latest information about the gallery, its collections, cafes, exhibitions and more, visit the Art Gallery’s homepage.
After you’ve been to the AGNSW, why not follow up with the MCA at Circular Quay. It’s a lovely walk to get there. Stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens, past the Opera House and the ferries at the Quay and you’re there. Allow half an hour. It’s well worth it on a fine day.