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Arts and Culture in Canberra

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Melbourne may take all the cultural credit, but the capital city of Canberra has its share of Australia's artistic attractions. The museums are among the finest in the country, with inspiring art galleries, historical hubs, and national archives packed with quirky cultural artefacts. There’s a thriving performing arts scene to experience as well.


Amazing art


As you’d expect from a capital city, Canberra has incredible art to discover. In addition to these 2 blockbuster attractions, you’ll also find specialist galleries devoted to everything from Aboriginal art to contemporary metal and glass creations.


National Gallery of Australia


The country’s largest art museum is home to a mind-blowing collection of over 166,000 works of art. As you might imagine, there’s a strong emphasis on Australian art, but there's also a good selection of European and American masterpieces, with work from all-time greats such as Monet, Cézanne, Warhol, and Francis Bacon.


Parkes Place, Canberra ACT 2600. Tel: +61 2 6240 6411


National Gallery of Australia website


National Portrait Gallery


The National Portrait Gallery's collection tells stories of achievement, individuality, independence, and exploration in Australia. You can happily spend a few hours perusing beautiful studies of world-renowned politicians, performers, sportspeople, and innovators. The gallery also plays host to an ever-rotating programme of temporary exhibitions, which look beyond Australia to celebrate fine portraiture from around the world.


King Edward Terrace, Canberra ACT 2600. Tel: +61 2 6102 7000


National Portrait Gallery website


Historical fascination


With numerous museums dedicated to local and national history, your visit to Canberra can be as enlightening and educational as it is enjoyable.
Australian War Memorial


So much more than a memorial, this is also home to a museum which sweeps through Australian military history. Visitors enter through the powerfully moving Commemorative Courtyard, where visitors have attached remembrance poppies to the names of their fallen loved ones. Inside you’ll find poignant exhibits devoted to the world wars, including a light and sound show which recreates a night-time air operation over Berlin.


Treloar Crescent, Campbell ACT 2612. Tel: +61 2 6243 4211


Australian War Memorial website


National landmarks


No visit to Canberra would be complete without a look at its iconic national buildings. Parliament House is top of the list for most first-time visitors, but if you’ve time to spare you should also seek out the eye-catching High Court of Australia.


Parliament House


The meeting place of the Parliament of Australia is a modern architectural masterpiece inspired by the shapes of boomerangs. Free guided tours of its marble-clad interiors operate throughout the day, but you can also peruse the complex at your leisure, with plenty of art to take in. You can even watch parliament in action from the free public galleries.


Parliament Drive, Canberra ACT 2600. Tel: +61 2 6277 5399


Parliament House website


Performing arts


After all the sightseeing you might very well fancy taking the load off your feet and sitting back to enjoy a show. Canberra has all sorts on offer, from mega musicals to cutting-edge contemporary plays.


Canberra Theatre Centre


The capital’s premier performing arts centre boasts 3 fabulous theatres including the grand, proscenium arch Canberra Theatre and the cosy, intimate Courtyard Studio. These venues play host to a mind-bogglingly diverse selection of international hit musicals, acclaimed dramas, and dance performances, not to mention rock gigs and comedy events. If you’ve even the slightest interest in performance art of any description, this should be high on your Canberra agenda.


Civic Square, Canberra ACT 2608. Tel: +61 2 6275 2700


Canberra Theatre Centre website