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Your guide to the best galleries and museums in the ACT

Your guide to the best galleries and museums in the ACT


The National Museum of Australia showcases an impressive history of the nation, portraying 50,000 years of Indigenous heritage to modern-day Australia. The permanent exhibitions explore the people, events and issues that have shaped and influenced the country, and the museum also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions and family activities. If you’re after a more interactive experience, take the building and architecture tour or join a free host talk across the galleries, Gandel Atrium and garden spaces. To top off your visit, enjoy the museum’s lakeside position on the Acton Peninsula with some of the most spectacular views in all of the capital. For the best vista, head to the pentagonal-shaped Museum Cafe perched on the water’s edge and enjoy the scenery from behind the tall glass windows or relax on the outside deck and overlook the city, Lake Burley Griffin, the Captain Cook Memorial Jet and bordering mountain scape.


The National Portrait Gallery pays homage to the many prominent individuals who have inspired and shaped the fabric of Australian society. The gallery’s mixed-media collection includes over 500 portraits of scientists, artists, entertainers, politicians, athlete sand royalty across nine day-lit spaces. This spring you can enjoy the entries to the Darling Portrait Prize, a national prize for Australian portrait painting honouring the legacy of Mr L Gordon Darling ACCMG (1921-2015), who was instrumental in establishing the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, or be sure to check out the entries for the 2022 National Photographic Portrait Prize by Australia’s aspiring and professional portrait photographers. While you’re there, be sure to take in the award-winning, architecturally designed building, featuring striking cantilever concrete blades, strips of stone and timber from each Australian state and territory, and a design that symbolises the relationship between the visitor, space, material, light and art.


The National Dinosaur Museum is a delight for the young and young at heart. With one of the biggest permanent collections of interactive dinosaurs in Australia, you can get up close and personal with the skeletons and fossils of some of the most impressive prehistoric creatures that once roamed the earth. What’s more, the museum is not just about dinosaurs, but also includes exhibitions and displays that cover the history of life on this planet, with fossils from 700-million-year-old marine fauna through to fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Photography by : Chris Nguyen


The Australian War Memorial is arguably one of the most iconic attractions in Canberra and proudly commemorates the lives and stories of the people who have served, and continue to serve our nation in war, conflict, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. Not only a memorial, it is also a world-class museum, shrine, archive and research centre and is home to exhibitions, artworks, large technology objects and countless personal records. Everyday at 4:45pm, the memorial hosts the Last Post Ceremony in the Commemorative Courtyard, sharing the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour, so be sure to schedule your visit around it.

“The gallery’s collection represents art not just from Australia, but also Europe, America, Asia and the Pacific”

Photography by : Tony Liao


The Canberra Railway Museum’s collection takes you back in time to the formative years of Australian rail history, with locomotives, rolling stock and other interesting railway artefacts, most of which had connections to the railway history of the ACT. Located in Kingston, the trains on display are nothing short of impressive and all are open and explorable. Be sure to look out for the Locomotive 3016 tank engine built in 1903, board the footplate of the steam locomotive 1210, which brought the first train to Canberra in 1914, check out the TAM 1888 express sleeping car built in 1929 – one of the last of its kind, and finally, the Locomotive 1210, an express passenger steam train built in 1878 – the oldest in the museum’s collection. Photography by Klaudia Piaskowska

Photography by : Thomas Thompson


The National Gallery of Australia is home to one of the best evolving collections of art in the world, with over 155,000 works on display, created by more than 15,000 artists, including the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. The gallery’s collection represents art not just from Australia, but also Europe, America, Asia and the Pacific with some of the finest examples of French Impressionism, Dada and Surrealism, the Russian Avantgarde, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism as well as Conceptual Art. This spring you can admire the work of Cressida Campbell, one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists, whose art consists of painting and printmaking, or the works of North American artist, Kara Walker, who explores the narratives of race, gender, and sexuality.

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