Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Melbourne icon-chevron-right The best art exhibitions in Melbourne this month

The best art exhibitions in Melbourne this month

From blockbuster shows to hidden gems, hands-on events and things to do – here is your hit-list

A Fairy Tale in Red Times NGV 2019
Shi Yong, 'A Bunch of Happy Fantasies', 2009
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The NGV's big winter double – bringing together the Terracotta Warriors with Chinese contemporary art superstar Cai Guo-Qiang – kicks off this month, but there's plenty to see across the whole city. Over in ACCA, Tom Nicholson's fascinating exhibition continues, while at Heide Museum of Modern Art a celebration of Melbourne icon Mirka Mora is opening.

Looking to get out of the gallery? See the best street art in Melbourne. And if you're after something a touch more dramatic, here's our hit-list of the best theatre in Melbourne this month.

Melbourne's best exhibitions in May

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Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape NGV 2019 supplied photo
Photograph: Jason Edwards
Art

Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank
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Cai Guo-Qiang is best known for unique, large-scale artworks that draw on his cultural heritage. In this exhibition, part of the National Gallery of Victoria's prestigious Winter Masterpieces series, he's presenting all new works.

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Terracotta Warriors NGV 2019
Photograph: Courtesy NGV
Art

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank
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The National Gallery of Victoria's latest winter blockbuster was a look back at the last 130 years of modern art, but their major 2019 winter exhibitions are looking a fair bit further back. All the way to the third century BCE.

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Sidney Nolan Ned Kelly Geelong Gallery 2019
Sidney Nolan, 'Ned Kelly', 1946, from the Ned Kelly series 1946–47
Art

Sidney Nolan: Ned Kelly

icon-location-pin Geelong Gallery, Geelong
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There aren't many images from Australian art history that are quite as famous as Sidney Nolan's series of paintings depicting Ned Kelly and stories of his famously ferocious Kelly Gang. 

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Tom Nicholson: Public Meeting ACCA 2019
Image courtesy the artist. Photograph: Christian Capurro.
Art

Tom Nicholson: Public Meeting

icon-location-pin Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA, Southbank
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Tom Nicholson’s drawings, sculptures and social practice installations hang in the National Gallery of Australia and have been exhibited at biennales around the world. Yet until now, there has never been a large-scale exhibition of his work. 

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5
Mirka for Melbourne Heide 2019
Art

Mirka for Melbourne

icon-location-pin Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen
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After beloved Melbourne artist Mirka Mora passed away last year at the age of 90, many of her artworks and personal possessions were put up for public auction. Horrified at the thought of the artist’s legacy being split up, members of Melbourne’s art community set up a crowd funding campaign to allow Heide Museum of Modern Art to purchase a selection of the auction’s contents.

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Darren Sylvester
Art, Photography

Darren Sylvester: Carve a Future, Devour Everything, Become Something

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne
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It’s easy to write off Darren Sylvester’s lucid, hyper-real photographs as simply commenting on consumerism. But Sylvester wants to be clear – the branded objects and banal scenes that regularly appear in his works aren’t intended to combat the commercialist agenda.

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A Fairy Tale in Red Times NGV 2019
Art

A Fairy Tale in Red Times: Works from the White Rabbit Collection

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank
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White Rabbit, a privately owned four-storey temple to 21st century Chinese art, is a big deal in Sydney. It shows Judith Neilson’s epic and eclectic collection to hordes of Sydneysiders every week, ranging from small-scale works to massive installations. This is the first time the collection is being shown at the NGV, with a selection of 26 artists.

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Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art NGV 2019
Art

Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne
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Father and daughter artists Hans and Nora Heysen helped shaped the course of 20th century Australian art. Both accomplished artists in their own right, Hans is recognised as one of the pioneers of Australian landscape painting, while Nora was an established portraitist and still life painter who became the first female winner of the Archibald Prize.

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Alexander Calder Radical Inventor NGV supplied image
© Calder Foundation, New York / Copyright Agency Australia
Art

Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank
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It’s not an exaggeration to say Alexander Calder changed the face of modern art. Known as “the man who made sculpture move”, his gravity-defying mobiles are instantly recognisable. 

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Shifting Surrounds Substation 2019 supplied
Photograph: Supplied
Art

Shifting Surrounds

icon-location-pin The Substation, Newport
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ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE is a major festival all about the ways that artists are approaching climate change, with more than 30 exhibitions around Melbourne. But this exhibition of immersive projection works by Melbourne artist Yandell Walton is one of our highlights.

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Looking to get outside the gallery?

Croft Alley, Melbourne Street Art 2017, Photo credit: Graham Denholm
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Art, Street art

Where to find the best street art in Melbourne

Sure, street art covers almost every nook and cranny of our creative, colourful city, but there are more highly concentrated clusters than others. These are the street art hotspots that any self-respecting 'grammer should be snapping: the city's ten best street mural hotspots, in all their spray-painted laneway glory. 

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