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
Two rainbow coloured vaguely dog-shaped sculptures. Their "fur" is multicoloured tassels
Photograph: Supplied / Linden New Art

The best art exhibitions in Melbourne this month

Discover Melbourne's best art exhibitions and events happening in May

By Nicola Dowse

Melbourne is known for its fantastic, world-class arts scene and this month is no different. Here are the best art exhibitions to see in Melbourne this May: make sure you drop into Anna Schwartz to check out Mike Parr's ongoing, evolving works. Many of these exhibitions are free too, so you don't have to break the bank to see superb art works.

Prefer the performing arts? Check out the best shows to see in Melbourne this month.

Melbourne's best exhibitions in May

Big Weather - NGV Australia
Photograph: Supplied/NGV Austral

Big Weather

Art The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Big Weather explores Australia's weather – and specifically the knowledge, stories and perspectives on the weather as told by First Nations artists. The exhibition showcases works from Indigenous artists that are related to the weather, including representations of ancestral rain, hail and storm spirits; works exploring climate change-induced extreme weather events; and the place of animals and how they're affected by the environment and weather.


Miffy illustration
Photograph: © Mercis by Amsterdam/Dick Bruna

Miffy and Friends

Art Drawings Bunjil Place Library, Narre Warren


Miffy and Friends showcases original drawing and illustrations by Bruna as well as early book covers and posters of Miffy. Seven contemporary Australian artists will be showing their interpretations of Miffy and how they’ve taken Bruna and Miffy’s classic colours, lines and forms and reworked them for new audiences. The exhibition will be at Bunjil Place from Saturday, March 27 to Sunday, June 13, running Tuesdays through to Sundays. It is free to attend. 

Frozen 2 still for ACMI's Disney exhibition
Photograph: Supplied

Disney: The Magic of Animation

Art Drawings ACMI - Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne

After a massive renovation, ACMI is ready to host big winter masterpieces exhibitions again. And our national museum of screen culture isn’t holding back, announcing a huge 90-year showcase of Disney animation with a glimpse behind the scenes at Walt Disney Animation Studios, one of the world’s most prolific animation studios. The exhibition will feature over 500 original artworks that date from the 1920s to the present day, including sketches and concept art from Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie to new release Raya and the Last Dragon.

An elderly man with short white hair and only one warm meditatively smears black paint on a white wall. He is covered in black paint too.
Photograph: Mark Porkorny

Mike Parr: Half Way House

Art Installation Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Arguably Australia's most famous performative artist, Mike Parr is transforming Anna Schwartz Gallery as part of his new solo exhibition Half Way House. Over the course of three months, Parr – aka the guy who lived under a Hobart road for Dark Mofo – is presenting four blind peformative works and installations at the Flinders Lane gallery. The exhibition also includes video, sculpture, painting and photography works from Parr, which serve to connect the different stages of the evolving exhibition.

Rone in Geelong exhibition at Geelong Gallery
Photograph: Leslie Haworth/Visit Victoria

Rone in Geelong

Art Street art Geelong Gallery, Geelong

Street artist Tyrone Wright – better known as Rone – is returning home to Geelong for his first survey exhibition. Rone in Geelong presents a comprehensive collection of work spanning his career, from early stencils to photographs that show how he goes about transforming deserted buildings (you can also see one of these spaces recreated in 3D). The pièce de résistance is the new installation Rone has created using not an abandoned room, but one of Geelong Gallery's grand spaces.


Yhonnie Scarce, 'Prohibited Zone, Woomera' 2021
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and This is no Fantasy, Melbourne

Yhonnie Scarce: Missile Park

Art Sculpture and installations Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA, Southbank

Yhonnie Scarce is known for her masterful, almost magical, glass blowing technique and for her assemblages and public works. This year, ACCA pays homage to the leading contemporary artist in Missile Park, a survey of the last 15 years of Yhonnie Scarce's work, featuring all-new commissions. 


'In the Garden of Dreams' Mirka Mora, 1975-81
Photograph: Supplied / Common State


Art Jewish Museum of Australia, St Kilda

There have been many exhibitions on Mora, but none quite like this. The Jewish Museum of Australia's Mirka is the most extensive survey of Mirka Mora ever. The museum has turned into an “immersive Mirka-world” for the exhibition, which features never-before-exhibited works from the Mora family and Mirka’s studio archives. Alongside these works, Mirka tells the artist’s story through her sketchbooks, letters, diaries and audio recordings from the Jewish Holocaust Centre’s archives.

Two rainbow coloured vaguely dog-shaped sculptures. Their "fur" is multicoloured tassels
Photograph: Supplied / Linden New Art

Troy Emery: Sonder

Art Sculpture and installations Linden New Art, St Kilda

Local artist Troy Emery's work often entails exploring animals and anthropomorphism while also playfully toying with colour, texture and materials. Sonder is no different. This exhibition at Linden New Art presents six new animalistic sculptures from the Melbourne-based artist. At once the sculptures are both faceless and foreboding, and candy-coloured and inviting; it's hard to know whether you should feel threatened or excited by sharing a room with them. 


Mary Quant, Bendigo Art Gallery
Photograph: Pink dress with tie c. 1966 and 'Overdraft' waistcoat and 'Cheque Book' skirt c,1967. Mary Quant at the V&A (06 April 2019 – 16 February 2020). © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary

Art Design Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo

Bendigo Art Gallery pays tribute to the influential British designer with a new, exclusive exhibition, Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary. The exhibition showcases Quant's work between 1955 and 1975, a time when she changed the way women dressed by making clothes fun and more readily available through mass production techniques. The exhibition comes direct from London's Victoria and Albert Museum, following a social media call out (the WeWantQuant campaign) that saw 800 women who wore Quant's clothes share their personal stories.

A man person with short hair stands in a forest with their arm and palm outstretched
Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Moore Contemporary, Perth

Slow Moving Waters

Art TarraWarra Museum of Art, Tarrawarra

In a society that glorifies always being on, TarraWarra Museum of Art has chosen to amplify the opposite. For its 2021 biennial, the gallery presents Slow Moving Waters: an exhibition exploring slowness, deceleration, drift and the elasticity of time. From March 27, TarraWarra will exhibit works from 24 Australian artists that examine the slow road through life – whether that be through concept, medium or political statement.

Looking to get outside the gallery?

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

Where to find the best street art in Melbourne

Art Street art

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. 


    You may also like