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The best art exhibitions in Melbourne this month

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

Photograph of a woman artistically fanning a red dress on a flat beach under a almost cloudless sky
Photograph: © Dana Scruggs Dana Scruggs, 'Fire on the Beach' 2019; from The New Black Vanguard (Aperture 2019)

Summer might be over but March has plenty of art to keep you occupied as the weather cools. The NGV's blockbuster paying tribute to street art legends Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat is still drawing massive crowds, stepping back in time to connect with New York in the '80s. There's plenty else to see around the city, including Destiny Deacon's first solo exhibition in 15 years and a huge survey of Joy Hester to mark 100 years since the artist's birth. 

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 March

Face (with Yellow Background)c.1947brush and ink and gouache o
Art, Paintings

Joy Hester: Remember Me

Heide Museum of Modern Art is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Joy Hester’s birth with a huge survey of the artist’s work. Joy Hester: Remember Me encompasses more than 130 works from the Melbourne artist, spanning her earliest drawings as a student to her famously emotive ink paintings. Joy Hester: Remember Me also features works from some of the artist’s most renowned series such as ‘Incredible Night Dreams’, ‘Faces’, ‘Lovers’, and ‘Girls’. 

A film still featuring women wearing saris with full-face drama masks over their faces
Photograph: Supplied © The Otolith Group
Art, Digital and interactive

The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis

Buxton Contemporary, Southbank

London artists Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar – aka the Otolith Group – are presenting their first major Australian solo exhibition at Buxton Contemporary. Xenogenesis brings together five selected works created by the Otolith Group between 2013 and 2018. Through film, photography and audio, the works create worlds that tread the line between reality and science fiction, with the exhibition name stemming from sci-fi author Octavia Estelle Butler's Xenogenesis book trilogy. 

Photograph of a woman artistically fanning a red dress on a flat beach under a almost cloudless sky
Photograph: © Dana Scruggs
Art, Photography

The New Black Vanguard

Bunjil Place Library, Narre Warren

The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion, comes to Bunjil Place Gallery as part of the Photo 2020 International Festival of Photography. With photographers hailing from London to Lagos, the exhibition challenges the idea of blackness as homogenous, and explores ideas around beauty, race and gender. 

The Look Geelong Gallery 2020 supplied
Lorrie Graham, 'Noni Hazlehurst', 1977. Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

The Look

Geelong Gallery, Geelong

You can see highlights from the National Portrait Gallery's magnificent collection in The Look, at Geelong Gallery featuring 68 photographic portraits of Australians from all walks of life – a range of ages, genders, occupations, races and levels of fame – captured by some of our country's most celebrated photographers. The photographs stretch over five decades, back to an early 1970s portrait by Ivan Gaal of actor (and Play School presenter) George Spartels. 

Two doll heads on a yellow backdrop with a wooden boomerang in front of them
Photograph: Supplied © Destiny Deacon
Art, Photography

Destiny Deacon: Destiny

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 15 years since Destiny Deacon has had a solo exhibition. The Torres Strait Islander artist’s work offers a darkly funny and frequently poignant look at contemporary Australian life. Deacon is best known for her photography, but there’ll be more than 100 multidisciplinary works on show, including video, sculpture and installation, drawn from 30 years of work. 

Kaiela Dungala Koorie Heritage Trust 2020 supplied
Suzanne Atkinson, 'Inspiration'


Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne

Just over two hours north of Melbourne is Shepparton’s Kaiela Arts Centre, one of the busiest and most influential Aboriginal art centres in the state. Founded in 2006, the centre represents around 80 artists from the Kaiela-Dungala (Goulburn Murray) region, working across an eclectic range of styles and media. The Koorie Heritage Trust is celebrating their work with this exhibition.

Keith Haring, 'Malcolm X' 1988
Art, Paintings

Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines

NGV International, Southbank

After the success of a joint exhibition of work by Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei in 2016, the NGV is bringing together another pair of art legends for its 2019/20 summer blockbuster. Who doesn't love a two-for-one deal? Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat's careers burned bright and fast in the 1980s, rocking the New York art establishment. 

Shirin Neshat: Dreamers National Gallery of Victoria 2019 supplied
© Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat: Dreamers

NGV International, Southbank

Iranian-born, New York-based artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat has been exploring the relationship between women, identity and Islam for more than 20 years. In Dreamers, her trilogy of black and white video installations, Neshat examines the world of the subconscious from the perspective of three women.

Photograph courtesy National Gallery of Victoria
Design: Comme des Garçons
Art, Design

Collecting Comme

NGV International, Southbank

The National Gallery of Victoria has always been quite forward-thinking in its integration of design and fashion into its exhibition program, but it also has a hugely impressive collection of design, including a heap of pieces from Japanese label Comme des Garçons.

Liquid Light NGV 2019
Image courtesy NGV

Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass

NGV International, Southbank

Venetian glass is known across the world for its vibrant colour, elaborate designs and exquisite craftsmanship, honed over centuries by traditional glassblowers on the Venetian island of Murano. In Liquid Light, the National Gallery of Victoria brings together their extensive collection of glass pieces.


Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness

NGV International, Southbank

Even if you don't know his name, you're almost certainly familiar with Brian Donnelly's (aka Kaws) larger-than-life sculptures and paintings. Kaws take icons from cartoons and pop culture and reimagines them in vulnerable and unexpected situations.

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.