From major establishments to small independently run initiatives, Sydney’s gallery scene is dynamic and diverse. Permanent and visiting exhibitions give you the chance to explore the work of up-and-coming artists one day, and take a deep dive into some of the world’s most applauded classic and contemporary creatives the next. An exciting roster of annual arts festivals seals the deal.
It’s hard to beat the location of the Museum of Contemporary Art, sitting pretty at Circular Quay overlooking the Sydney Opera House and just a few steps from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The innovative space celebrates the work of both international and Australian artists, and also hosts education programs and online exhibitions – head to the rooftop cafe to refuel with unbroken views over the water. You’re welcome.
What's on & coming soon at the Museum of Contemporary Art:
Arguably Sydney’s most notable public exhibition space, the Art Gallery of NSW showcases significant works by international and local artists, including one of the world's largest permanent exhibitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. This is also the home turf of one of the country's most important annual art events, the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, which spotlights outstanding portrait, landscape and subject or genre artists.
What's on & coming soon at the Art Gallery of NSW:
The Aquilizan Studio: Making it Home, now until 22 January 2023
Daniel Boyd: Treasure Island, now until 29 January 2023
Local Rhythms and Actions, now until January 2023
Sol LeWitt, now until 12 February 2023
Adrian Villar Rojas: The End of Imagination, 3 December 2022-mid 2023
ARTEXPRESS 2023, 2 February-7 May 2023
The National 4: Australian Art Now, opens 24 March 2023
In Chippendale, White Rabbit Gallery displays what has become one of the world’s most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art, a short stroll from the bustling streets of Chinatown. The space – once a Rolls-Royce service depot in the 1940s – is owned by Judith Neilson, who was inspired after her first trips to Beijing in the late 1990s by the creative energy of the works she saw there. Each year there are two new exhibitions, with the gallery closed in between.
Nearby in Redfern, Carriageworks is the largest and most significant contemporary multi-arts centre of its kind in Australia. Reflecting the diverse communities of urban Sydney, the artist-led program is ambitious, radical and always inclusive. Visit before or after the weekly on-site farmers’ market.
What's on & coming soon at Carriageworks:
Longhouse: Works in Progress 2022, 17 November 2022
Thea Anamara Perkins: Stockwoman, 14 December 2022-12 February 2023
Paul Yore: World Made Flesh, 5 January-26 February 2023
Brett Whiteley Studio is one of Sydney’s best-kept art secrets. As its name suggests, one of Australia's most celebrated artists of the 20th century, Brett Whiteley, lived and worked here from 1988 to 1992. Glimpse his private world through a selection of sketchbooks, photographs, music collections and personal memorabilia, before exploring the surrounding suburb of Surry Hills.
What's on & coming soon at Brett Whiteley Studio:
Brett Whiteley: Blue and White, now until 27 November 2022
Eternity is Now: Highlights from the Brett Whiteley Studio Collection, 3 December 2022-mid 2023
On the banks of the Georges River, you will find Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, a cultural facility offering a wide range of exhibitions, events and educational programs spread across six galleries, two theatres and a large main hall. Gallery admission is always free, as are many of the programs.
What's on & coming soon at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre:
If you find yourself exploring the edges of Greater Sydney, make a beeline for the fantastic Campbelltown Arts Centre. Boasting more than 70,000 visitors per year, discover gallery spaces, workshops, a performance studio, large outdoor amphitheatre and, of course, the well-known Arts Centre Cafe. A tranquil Japanese Teahouse and Garden, a Bicentennial gift to the people of Campbelltown by sister city Koshigaya, sits adjacent and makes for a relaxing afternoon walk.
What's on & coming soon at Campbelltown Arts Centre:
The Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo prides itself on having a contemporary focus on arts, science, innovation and design. The former power station opened as a museum in 1988, and has since become one of the largest and most dynamic in Australia. Inside you’ll find a series of permanent and temporary exhibitions, many with a focus on fashion and design – the museum houses a 500,000-strong collection of works by big names such as Florence Broadhurst, Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen, as well as John Utzon’s original designs for the Sydney Opera House.
The National Indigenous Art Fair takes place during NAIDOC Week in July, at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay. Look forward to artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from around Australia, as well as a program of live music and Aboriginal dance performances.
Meanwhile in Darlinghurst, The Artery Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery specialises in art from remote Aboriginal communities, working with both emerging and established creatives and art centres and specialising in ethical and affordable Aboriginal artworks. If you can’t visit in person, the website is an integral part of the business and is updated daily.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.