Upon entering the National Gallery of Australia, the first piece you will lay eyes on is the iconic Aboriginal Memorial. This piece features a display of 200 painted and hollow tree trunks, one for each year of European settlement from 1788 to 1988, used to represent the Aboriginals that had died protecting their land. It is easily the most significant item of the over 100,000 collected works in the gallery and was created by the artists of the indigenous community of Ramingining in the Northern Territory.
Australian non-indigenous artists flood the upper level of the gallery with works that represent the highest quality of visual art from the earliest colonial days to today. Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelley series, a group of 26 paintings depicting the life of the famous bushranger and his gang, composes a single section of history.
The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra curates both Australian and international art. The lower level with its high ceilings is where you will find the National Collection of Asian Art, which is dominated by three main regions: Art of the Indian subcontinent, Art of South East Asia, and Art of East Asia. The collection includes paintings, prints, sculptures, textiles and manuscripts.
Other sections in the gallery include: Western art, modern art, photography, crafts and the Sculpture Garden.
A visit to the gallery’s permanent collection is free, but special exhibits will come with a small fee. The National Gallery of Australia is open from 10am to 5pm every day except for Christmas Day.