Some of Australia's best museums may be found in Melbourne, which is surprising given the city's reputation as "Australia's cultural capital."
Melbourne's museums celebrate the city's vibrant multiculturalism by showcasing its many diverse cultures through anything from fascinating history to provocative works of art, all with a focus on the creative industries.
If you're a history buff and this is your first trip in Melbourne, I highly recommend checking out one of the city's many museums. Even if you believe you know Melbourne well, you will learn new things at every one of the city's museums, and you may even end yourself rethinking something you thought you knew about Melbourne's history or culture.
No matter whatever your interests are, you're sure to find at least a few exhibits in Melbourne that are worth your time. The fact that several of Melbourne's finest museums are free to the public is a major plus.
FAQs About Great Museums
Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum, Scienceworks and IMAX Melbourne will reopen from Saturday 30 October, and tickets will be available from 10 am Tuesday 26 October. All visitors over the age of 16 must be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption. They will be required to show their COVID-19 vaccination status or medical exemption as a condition of entry.
Tickets to Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks, and Immigration Museum will be available from 10 am Tuesday 26 October. Visitor numbers are limited across Museums Victoria venues, so please book online to ensure you don’t miss out. Limited on-site tickets are subject to availability.
To find out what is happening at our museums, visit:
- Melbourne Museum
- Immigration Museum
- IMAX Melbourne
Heide Modern was designed by David McGlashan of the architectural firm McGlashan and Everist and was completed in 1968. The brief from John and Sunday Reed was for a ‘gallery to be lived in. You can learn more on a guided tour and in the publication Living in Landscape: Heide and Houses by McGlashan and Everist, available for purchase in the Heide Shop.
The original Heide Galleries building was designed by Andrew Andersons of Peddle Thorp Architects, creating a new series of gallery spaces adjoining the Heide Modern building.
O’Connor + Houle Architecture redeveloped the Heide Galleries in 2005–06, adding the Albert and Barbara Tucker Gallery, the Tucker Study Centre and Kerry Gardner and Andrew Myer Project Gallery; and designing renovations to the main galleries and Heide Shop; and new amenities for storage and staff accommodation.
The Heide collection comprises over 3,500 works in all media and includes a significant representation of Australian modern art by key artists from the 1930s to the 1960s. It offers perspectives on modern and contemporary art practice as well as Heide history.
The Heide archives include significant holdings of artists’ papers and documents relating to the professional activities of Heide founders John and Sunday Reed.
Melbourne's Best Museums
Melbourne's reputation as Australia's cultural hub is not undeserved. Different sized museums, art galleries, and other cultural centres dot the cityscape.
While some museums have opened in renovated old buildings, others have elected to construct brand new, state-of-the-art complexes. Our choice of the best ten museums in for both art and history lovers alike is sure to please.
Melbourne to enrich your experience in this thriving city.
Lyon Housemuseum is the residence of architect Cecil Fulham, its wife Yuji, & their three children; it features works of Australian visual art in various media.
It took Corbett seven years to complete the house, five of which were spent on the design & two on the building. The Lyons' home is one of Melbourne's finest secrets, yet they open it up to the public a few times each month so we can all ogle at the incredible existence they have created all themselves. The tours are quite popular and fill up quickly, so booking in advance is essential.
Melbourne's richness of knowledge will blow your head. The museum, which was designed by a Melbourne firm and opened to the public that same year (2001), offers a comprehensive look just at city's long and eventful history.
ScienceWorks covers all aspects of modern life, including robotics, housing, electricity, technology, meteorology, and more, with content organised by age and theme. Visitors can participate in hands-on activities such as experiments, games, and workshops, contrary to the name's implication.
Even those who don't consider themselves "kids at heart" will find enough to enjoy. ScienceWorks also features the Melbourne Planetarium, a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. There are armchairs, a 52-foot hardwood screen, and surround sound for viewing 30-minute films on various astronomical topics.
Islamic Museum Of Australia
Located in the city's northern suburbs, the Islamic Museum of Australia serves as a cultural hub that encourages open dialogue and acceptance of all faiths and cultures. Decipher Architects have transformed what was formerly a bottling plant into a contemporary charmer, complete with stunningly designed back offices.
The reception area, served by some of the nicest people in town, is separated from the exhibition halls by two bridges. The museum's architecture is a fitting metaphor again for institution's aim, with its dark hallways yielding to brighter areas.
National Gallery Of Victoria - International
You are now in Australia's oldest and most renowned art museum. The Australian collection has been relocated to a new, purpose-made facility, but the international collection remains in the bluestone monolithic that was built in 1967 and built by renowned Australian designer Roy Grounds.
If you wear comfortable shoes, you can see all of the art shows in the museum in a single day. Additionally, it will captivate both seasoned art critics and novice viewers alike.
National Sports Museum
This National Sports Museum gives visitors an in-depth look into the various sports that really are popular in Australia, and it is housed in the historical Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Even adults will have a good time exploring the AFL zone, basketball goals, and response tests against Olympic medalists and other elite athletes.
The museum is a great stop for sports fans interested on Olympic, boxing, club rugby, and other Australian sporting history.
The Australian Centre For Moving Image
The ACMI is Australia's museum of film, technology, the arts, and gaming. The action will take place in a specially designated area of Federation Square, which features not one but two movie theatres.
There's a vast selection of films here, including those made especially for the exhibitions, some with very limited distribution, and films included at festivals. None of the movies on this list will be showing in theatres near you.
Heide Museum Of Modern Art
In 1934, John and Sunday Reed, two consumers, bought a house in the country 30 minutes outside of Melbourne. They gave it the name "Heide," and they began inviting artists, authors, and radical intellectuals like Sidney Noble, Albert Meyers, Agency Mora, and Joy Hardy to live there.
The Strands with their collection eventually outgrew the farm house, so they commissioned painter David McGlashan to create a larger, more contemporary home and museum they called Heide II. In 1981, the Reed family sold the property to the administration so that it could be renovated into the museum that stands there today.
Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
In keeping with Australia's relative youth, the world's largest collections of Australian art was housed in a state-of-the-art facility. Conveniently situated in a nook of Federation Square, it National Gallery de Victoria (NGV Australia) is indeed a massive cultural institution including over twenty galleries spanning across three storeys.
Explore the history of art in Australia from the time of European settlement onward, through the Colonial era as well as the Heidelberg School to modern and contemporary works in a variety of media, including painting, photography, prints, textiles, and decorative. The museum has an impressive collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts & works of art, which may appeal to international visitors.
Australia's First Peoples populated the continent for millennia, up until the early modern era (a little over two hundred years ago). They have a strong claim to being the world's first faith.
Over 250 different nationalities have now made Sydney their home base after Captain James Cook first set foot there in 1770. In 2015, foreign-born people made up 28% of Australia's population. To no one's surprise, though, there are enough narratives of immigrants' lives and difficulties to fill a museum, albeit a somewhat modest one.
Melbourne is home to many world-class art museums, so picking one won't be a problem.
Australian Centre For Contemporary Art
Although the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art has been around since 1983, it didn't move into its current facility inside the Melbourne Arts Precinct until 2002.
Every year, the centre commisions the work of roughly a half a dozen up-and-coming artists to display in shows. Thus, you can rest assured that you will never grow tired of Melbourne's many attractions.
Many works of experimental art can be found here. This is the difficulty they introduce. They use imaginative strategies in their job. If you have even a passing interest in art, a visit there would be worthwhile.
The Johnston Collection
In its new home, a two-story Victorian brick building, the Johnston Collection seems right at home. The museum's perpetual collection includes roughly 1500 pieces of fine art and decorative art. Items made of ceramics, wood, upholstery, textiles, glass, and metal are all included.
The museum acts as a time machine, transporting visitors to a different world where everyday objects like teacups as well as timers are revered as works of art. The majority of the objects are European, but there are also some from other countries and other time periods.
The Hellenic Museum
Located in the old Royal Mint, the Hellenic Museum provides an immersive experience spanning several millennia.
The permanent collection of the museum features a wide variety of ancient works, including marble statues & Bureaucratic paintings. Many significant ancient artefacts are on display thanks to a partnership with Benaki Museum of Athens.
The museum also celebrates contemporary Greek culture. Temporary exhibitions & installations regularly feature works of contemporary art that combine the ancient with the modern, providing new perspectives on works that date thousands of years ago.
Museums devoted to preserving & showcasing Melbourne's creative spirit are only natural inside a city as artistic as Melbourne.
Everything from the first moving pictures to the latest video games & museum displays are included. There are global references, but the focus is primarily on Australia's film industry.
Differentiating features of this collection include the ability to hyperlink individual stories for offline reading after reading them online. Because there's so much to see, a visit here could take several hours.
The Australian Music Vault
For those interested in learning more about Melbourne's thriving music industry, the Australian Music Vault is offering a free exhibit that does just that.
The museum's digital exhibit is unlike anything else; through in-depth interviews, visitors may learn about the lives of musicians and producers.
These songs can tell you a lot about the history of Australia's musical genre. Cool artefacts such as costumes, instruments, & props from well-known performers are on display for visitors to peruse.
The Grainger Museum, located just on University of Melbourne campus, is distinguished from other museums in Melbourne by its exclusive emphasis on the life composer Percy Grainger.
A poet and pianist who found more success away from Australia, where he was born, Percy spent the bulk of his life. Because of him, British folk music was revitalised.
There are many musical instruments, sheet music, clothes, and photographs on display at the museum. Fans of a genre are the most likely to enjoy it, yet the museum is nonetheless symbolic of Melbourne's rich cultural heritage.
What do you get when a team that's made its name in martini lounges decides to create an art gallery? If you hear the moniker "Grau Projekt," know that it is accurate.
The plan is to launch a sizable warehouse-themed art gallery that can showcase a wide range of cutting-edge shows, each which will be accompanied with a specially crafted drink. Why? Because it's not an overly formal setting. It is not attempting to sound pompous.
Approximately every six weeks, a new show opens, and with it, a fresh cocktail. If you want to use it, you'll need to book it in ahead because it's not open 24/7.
We love going to museums whenever we travel because it gives us a chance to learn about area we're inside and receive insight into its culture and history that we couldn't have gotten any other way. Here, you can see displays that all have some connection to the rich cultural history of Melbourne.
Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol is a fascinating example of Melbourne's rich history. A few of Australia's most notorious outlaws, like bushranger Ned Kelly, called it home between the years 1842 and 1929. What a wealth of information it could provide!
The museum that currently resides there tells some stories through its displays, artefacts, and the preservation of many of the building's original rooms.
Even though these buildings are in such remarkable condition, one can still get a feel for how terrible life might have been there. There are also kid-friendly activities, guided tours, and rotating exhibits.
Old Treasury Building
In 1994, the federal Treasury Department moved out of the Old Government Building and the building became a museum dedicated to Melbourne's early history and other significant periods in the city's evolution.
Particularly impressive are the displays devoted to a Gold Rush, Melbourne's time as the country's capital, and the governor's life. A wide range of other subjects are showcased in temporary exhibits.
This museum isn't as state-of-the-art as others in Melbourne, but it's nevertheless a fantastic introduction to the city's heritage and culture.
Maritime Museums Of Victoria
At one time, Melbourne was home to a single maritime museum, although that has since changed.
There are sixteen different galleries showcasing maritime art in Victoria.
Seven of them are in Melbourne, with the original and longest-running one being at Polly Woodside Waterfront. Built near Belfast in 1885, the Polly Woodside carried coal and grains to and from England to South America for a distance of almost 2.4 million kilometres.
There have been many different types of ships on display just at museums, from riverboats to bubble tugs to tall ships to even warships. They cover multiple eras and provide insight into Melbourne's marine history.
Victoria Police Museum
After a lengthy period of refurbishment, this Victoria Police Museum will reopen in 2021 at a brand new location.
When it reopens, visitors will be able to see this interesting collection once more; it details some of the worst periods in the country's (and Melbourne's) history.
The museum features artefacts from the Victoria Police Force's history dating back to its 1853 foundation, including uniforms, uniform patches, and even some of the armour worn either by Kelly Gang bushrangers.
Melbourne Tram Museum
Since trams play such a significant role in Melbourne's history and culture, it stands to reason that the city would have a museum devoted to them. It was once the Hawthorn Trolley Depot.
Among the 21 restored trams is one of the oldest models. Observing how they've evolved through the years is fascinating since it serves as a microcosm of the city's own growth and evolution.
Since the museum is only open a handful of times each month, you'll want to double-check their hours to make sure you're in town for one of them.
It would be hard to portray the story in Victoria without touching on the city's long and rich immigration background. This entire section is devoted to the several multicultural museums located in Melbourne.
Located in the historical Flinders Street Cantonment, the Immigration Museum provides a comprehensive look at multiculturalism.
This study investigates the migration patterns that brought individuals to Melbourne and the ways in which they impacted the city's development. Immigration has had a major impact on every facet of American culture, from the beans used in the coffee to a tunes played at concerts.
There are exhibits on display all three levels, both those that will never change and those that will. The courtyard is often used for other events and festivities of various kinds, including cultural ones.
Located in the heart of Sydney, the Chinese Museum (also known as that of the Museum for Chinese Australian History) is committed to preserving and displaying the history of Chinese immigration to Australia and the city of Sydney.
There are exhibits that focus on major events, such as the Gold Rush, which brought many Chinese to Victoria, while others emphasise smaller but no less important achievements. There are many intriguing artefacts, such as clothing and photographs, as well as the biggest Dai Loong Dragons ever employed in a processional.
The museum, which spans five levels, is both a tourist information centre and a storehouse for Chinatown's historical artefacts.
Melbourne is often regarded as Australia's cultural epicentre due to the abundance of museums showcasing the country's varied cultural traditions, from intriguing historical artefacts to thought-provoking contemporary artworks. Many of the city's museums are open and free to the public, and they provide fascinating glimpses into the city's vast and storied past. Architect Cecil Fulham, his wife Yuji, and their three children live in the Lyon Housemuseum, while the Melbourne Museum displays exhibits on every facet of contemporary life, from robots to architecture to electricity to meteorology. Armchairs, a 52-foot oak screen, and surround sound make ScienceWorks a popular venue for both locals and visitors to watch 30-minute films on a wide range of astronomical topics. The National Gallery of Victoria - International is Australia's oldest and most renowned art museum, while the Islamic Museum of Australia promotes understanding and mutual respect amongst people of different faiths and cultures.
The Heide Museum of Modern Art was founded by John and Sunday Reed in 1934, and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image is the country's cinema, technology, arts, and gaming museum. The Ian Potter Centre, the Immigration Museum, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, and countless other examples of innovative artwork may all be found in Melbourne's many world-class art museums. Over twenty galleries are spread out over three stories of this cutting-edge building known as the Ian Potter Centre. Astounding artefacts and works of art from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures can be found in the Immigration Museum's collection. Since its founding in 1983, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art has commissioned the works of a handful of promising young artists for exhibition.
A Victorian brick edifice, The Johnston Collection is home to over a thousand works of art and ornamental furnishings. It's like stepping inside a time warp, taking you to an alternate universe where commonplace items like teacups and timers are treated with the awe and respect they deserve. Featuring artefacts from antiquity and modern Greece, the Hellenic Museum transports visitors over time and space. You can see a free exhibit that does just that at the Australian Music Vault, and the Grainger Museum is unique in its dedication to the life of composer Percy Grainger. There will be cutting-edge exhibitions at the warehouse-themed Grau Projekt art gallery, with cocktails designed to complement each show.
With exhibits, artefacts, and the preservation of many of the building's original rooms, the Old Melbourne Gaol is a fascinating representation of Melbourne's rich history. The Gold Rush, Melbourne's tenure as the nation's capital, and the life of the governor are only few of the topics covered in the exhibits of the museum housed in the Old Treasury Building. There are also rotating exhibits, guided tours, and activities specifically designed for children.
There are sixteen maritime art museums in Victoria, seven of which are located in Melbourne. To and from England and South America, the Polly Woodside Waterfront transported coal and grains for about 2.4 million kilometres. Artifacts from the Victoria Police Force's history, which began in 1853, will be on display upon the museum's reopening in a new location in 2021. The museum's collection of twenty-one restored trams, including one of the oldest versions, represents a miniature version of Melbourne's own history and development. In Melbourne, you can learn more about the city's multicultural history at the Immigration Museum, which showcases the various migratory routes that led to Melbourne and how those routes shaped the modern metropolis.
The Chinese Museum in Sydney collects and exhibits artefacts from the Chinese community's long and storied history in Australia and the city of Sydney. The museum serves as a tourist information centre and a repository for Chinatown's historical artefacts, but it's only open a few times a month.
- Even though Sydney is often referred to as "Australia's cultural capital," Melbourne really has some of the top museums in the country.
- The museums of Melbourne highlight the city's thriving multiculturalism by displaying its many different cultures through everything from intriguing history to controversial pieces of art, all with an eye towards the city's thriving creative sector.
- If this is your first time in Melbourne and you're interested in history, you should visit one of the city's many museums.
- Every museum in Melbourne has something to teach you, even if you think you know the city well; you may even find yourself rethinking something you thought you understood about Melbourne's history or culture.
- No matter what you're into, there's bound to be an exhibit or two in Melbourne that piques your interest.
- It's a huge plus that many of Melbourne's best museums are totally free to visitors.
- The Finest Museums in Melbourne
- Melbourne's reputation as Australia's cultural powerhouse is not unwarranted.
- The city is peppered with museums, art galleries, and other cultural centres of varying sizes.
- Our list of the top 10 museums in is a win-win for culture vultures and history buffs alike.
- Visiting Melbourne will enhance your time in this dynamic city.
- the Melbourne Museum The depth of information in Melbourne is staggering.
- ScienceWorks also houses the Melbourne Planetarium, a popular site for locals and tourists alike.
- The Australian Museum's Islamic Collection The Islamic Museum of Australia, found in the city's northern suburbs, is an important cultural centre that promotes mutual understanding and respect among people of all faiths and backgrounds.
- Exhibitions at Australia's National Gallery, Open to the World You have entered Australia's most prestigious and oldest art museum.
- You can see all of the art exhibits in the museum in a day if you wear comfortable shoes.
- National Sports Museum Located in the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Sports Museum provides an in-depth look at the many sports that are very popular in Australia.
- It's the Australian National Film and Sound Archive The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is Australia's national museum of cinema, interactive art, and videogames.
- Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia The largest collection of Australian art in the world was placed in a state-of-the-art building to reflect Australia's modern status as a tourist destination.
- The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV Australia) is a large cultural institution with over twenty galleries spread across three stories, and it is located in a quiet corner of Federation Square.
- Learn about the evolution of Australian art from the time of European arrival through the Colonial era and the Heidelberg School to current and contemporary works in a wide range of mediums, such as painting, photography, prints, textiles, and decorative arts.
- Tourists from other countries may be interested in viewing the museum's extensive collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts and paintings.
- Two-eighths of Australia's population in 2015 were born overseas.
- Galleries of Fine Art Melbourne is home to many world-class art museums, so picking one won't be a problem.
- Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Although the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art has been around since 1983, it didn't move into its current site inside the Melbourne Arts Precinct until 2002.
- The Johnston Collection seems right at home in its new digs, a two-story Victorian brick edifice.
- In total, there are almost 1500 works of art and decorative art in the museum's permanent collection.
- The Hellenic Museum The Hellenic Museum, housed in the former Royal Mint, is a fascinating journey through time and space.
- The Benaki Museum in Athens has collaborated with the Acropolis Museum to display several important antique artefacts.
- The museum also celebrates modern Greek culture.
- Creative Museums devoted to conserving & showcasing Melbourne's creative spirit are only natural inside a city as artistic as Melbourne.
- Australia's Best-Kept Musical Secrets At the Australian Music Vault, there is a free exhibit that provides information about Melbourne's flourishing music industry for anyone who is interested.
- A lot of the development of Australia's musical style can be traced back to these tunes.
- Grainger Art Museum Unlike any other museum in Melbourne, the Grainger Museum's sole focus is on the life of composer Percy Grainger.
- He is credited with revitalising British folk music.
- A wide variety of musical artefacts, including instruments, sheet music, clothing, and photos, can be found at the museum.
- Although the museum is most likely to appeal to the genre's fans, it serves as a symbol of Melbourne's diverse cultural history.
- Grau Projekt A company well-known for their work in martini bars opens an art gallery.
- The name "Grau Projekt" is not a misnomer.
- The goal is to open a substantial art gallery in the style of a converted warehouse that can host a variety of cutting-edge exhibitions, each of which will be complemented with a unique cocktail.
- These exhibits all have something to do with the diverse cultural heritage of Melbourne.
- The Historic Melbourne Jail The Old Melbourne Gaol showcases Melbourne's intriguing past.
- Historically Significant Old Treasury Building After the federal Treasury Department left the Old Government Building in 1994, it was converted into a museum chronicling Melbourne's early history and other pivotal eras in the city's development.
- Victoria's Marine Museums Though there was once only one maritime museum in Melbourne, that's no longer the case.
- In Victoria, sixteen galleries display works by maritime artists.
- Seven are located in Melbourne, with the oldest and most established being at the Polly Woodside Waterfront.
- They span several time periods and shed light on the maritime past of Melbourne.
- Law Enforcement Gallery of the Greater Victoria Museum The Victoria Police Museum is closed for extensive renovations and will reopen in a new site in 2021.
- Since its inception in 1853, the Victoria Police Force has left a rich legacy of artefacts, some of which can be found at this museum. These include uniforms, uniform patches, and even pieces of the armour worn by either Kelly Gang bushrangers.
- The Museum of Transport and Technology in Melbourne Trams have played such an important part in Melbourne's past and present that it only seems sense that there would be a museum dedicated to them in the city.
- A historic tram, one of the earliest kinds, is among the 21 that have been brought back to life.
- Multicultural The city of Victoria has a lengthy and complex immigration history that would be difficult to represent in a film set there.
- This section is devoted entirely to the several multicultural museums found in Melbourne.
- Museum of Immigration The Immigration Museum in the historic Flinders Street Cantonment presents a thorough examination of multiculturalism.
- National Museum of China The Chinese Museum (also known as the Museum for Chinese Australian History) is a cultural institution in the centre of Sydney that collects, preserves, and exhibits artefacts and information related to the history of Chinese immigration to Australia and the city of Sydney.