Art galleries & exhibitions in Sydney

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.  

Must-see upcoming exhibitions

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    Museum of Contemporary Art

    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.

    Art Gallery of New South Wales

    Arguably Sydney’s most notable public exhibition space, the Art Gallery of New South Wales 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. 

    In 2022 the gallery expanded with the newly opened Sydney Modern Project. Housed in a sustainably designed new campus overlooking Sydney Harbour and connected by a public art garden to the historic gallery, the space features contemporary exhibitions by leading Australian and international artists in site-specific art spaces, including a column-free gallery and a gallery for time-based art.

    Sunlit view of the gallery at Sydney Modern, Art Gallery of NSW

    Sydney Modern Project, Art Gallery of New South Wales

    White Rabbit Gallery

    In ChippendaleWhite 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.

    SUPERNATURAL art exhibition being showcased at White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale

    White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale

    Carriageworks

    Nearby in RedfernCarriageworks 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.

    The Carriageworks, Significant contemporary multi-arts centre

    The Carriageworks, Inner Sydney

    Brett Whiteley Studio

    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.

    A man admiring artworks at Brett Whiteley Studio in Surry Hills, Sydney

    Brett Whiteley Studio, Surry Hills

    Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

    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.

    Campbelltown 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.

    Visitors enjoying the Recent Acquisitions exhibition on at the Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cambelltown

    Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown

    Powerhouse Museum

    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.

    Please note: Powerhouse Ultimo is temporarily closed as it undergoes a significant heritage revitalisation that will deliver new and expanded spaces to showcase the museum's renowned collection and present exclusive international exhibitions. Powerhouse will continue to present programs at Powerhouse Castle Hill and Sydney Observatory during this time.

    China series by Ah Xian, Powerhouse Museum

    China series by Ah Xian, Powerhouse Museum - Credit: Zan Wimberley

    The Artery Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery

    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.

    The Sydney International Arts Series

    The Sydney International Arts Series was created in 2010 by Destination NSW in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales to bring the world’s most outstanding exhibitions exclusively to Sydney. Since then, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia has presented exhibitions by major international artists Doug Aitken, Cornelia Parker, Pipilotti Rist, Tatsuo Miyajima, Grayson Perry, Anish Kapoor, Yoko Ono and David Goldblatt in partnership with SIAS.

    Do Ho Suh exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art

    Do Ho Suh exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art 

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