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

Set off on an art adventure with these exhibitions and events – from major blockbusters to must-see freebies

Meagan Streader, 'Silent Structures' MARS Gallery 2019 supplied
Photograph: Sam Whiteside Meagan Streader, 'Response VII - Partition III', 2017, site-specific electroluminescent installation

Galleries all around Melbourne are pretty busy this month, with the KAWS takeover continuing at the NGV, and London DJ and artist Haroon Mirza's show wrapping up at ACCA. Melbourne's long-standing Anna Schwartz Gallery is showing a massive exhibition of leading local artists, while Heide Museum of Modern Art is opening a new immersive VR experience.

And make sure you save some art-going dollars for next month, when the NGV unveils its exhibition paying tribute to New York's 1980s street art giants, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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 November


Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness

icon-location-pin 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.

Random International Rain Room
Photograph: Creative Commons / Alexandermcnabb
Art, Installation

Rain Room

icon-location-pin Jackalope Pavilion, St Kilda

It’s pretty common to get caught in the rain while walking around Melbourne. What’s less common is to get caught in the rain while walking around indoors in Melbourne – and even weirder when you realise that the rain is inexplicably falling everywhere except on you. This August Melbourne will be the first city in the southern hemisphere to host ‘Rain Room’, an immersive artwork by London-based collective Random International.

Never the Same River Anna Schwartz Gallery 2019 supplied
Candice Breitz, 'Profile' (still) 2017

Never the Same River

icon-location-pin Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Anna Schwartz Gallery celebrates its 35th anniversary this year with a landmark exhibition that brings together work from more than 50 Australian and international artists. Ranging from the late '80s to today, Never the Same River draws on the history of four Australian galleries past and present.

Meagan Streader, 'Silent Structures' MARS Gallery 2019 supplied
Photograph: Sam Whiteside

Meagan Streader: Silent Structures

icon-location-pin MARS Gallery, Windsor

You might remember Meagan Streader as the artist behind the intriguing light installation 'Slow Rinse' at Dark Mofo this year, or from her solo exhibitions Fold in Time (2018) or U-Bend Pillar (2017). As one of Australia’s brightest (sorry) young artists, her site specific installations have also been seen as far away as Kerala, Amsterdam and New York City.

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

Shirin Neshat: Dreamers

icon-location-pin 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.

Jess Johnson and Simon Ward Terminus Heide supplied 2019
Photograph: National Gallery of Australia

Terminus: Jess Johnson and Simon Ward

icon-location-pin Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen

It’s only relatively recently that artists have started embracing virtual reality as a medium, but New York-based visual artist Jess Johnson and New Zealand animator Simon Ward use the technology better than just about anybody in this exhibition of five works that take you into different realms.

Linden Postcard Prize exhibition 2017 installation view 2016 at Linden New Art courtesy LNA
Photograph: Supplied
Art, Galleries

Linden Postcard Show

icon-location-pin Linden New Art, St Kilda

This annual exhibition, now in its 29th year, offers a ‘snapshot’ of Australia’s artscape by dint of its open door policy: the only rule for entry is that the artist must be Australian, and that the work must be 8 by 10 inches. Add a $5,000 main prize, and a suite of smaller awards (including People’s Choice), and you have a perfect storm for a consistently dynamic range of styles and calibres.

Petrina Hicks, Bleached Gothic 2019 supplied NGV
© Petrina Hicks. Courtesy Michael Reid, Sydney; and This is No Fantasy, Melbourne.
Art, Photography

Petrina Hicks: Bleached Gothic

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Petrina Hicks is one of the most instantly recognisable photographers working in Australia today, known for her large-scale, hyperreal works that co-opt the visual language of advertising and traditional portraiture to explore ideas around consumerism and the female experience.

Mariana Castillo Deball // Replaying lifes tape
Mariana Castillo Deball, 'Ediacara panorama' 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Mariana Castillo Deball: Replaying Life’s Tape

icon-location-pin Monash University Museum of Art, Caulfield East

Visiting South Australia’s Flinders Ranges last year, Mexico-born, Berlin-based artist Mariana Castillo Deball was fascinated by what she saw. Known as the Ediacara Hills, the area is famous for a group of fossils so significant that they spawned their own geological age, the Ediacaran Period, some 635 to 542 million years ago.

Polixeni Papapetrou, Olympia NGV 2019 supplied
© The estate of Polixeni Papapetrou
Art, Photography

Polixeni Papapetrou: Olympia

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Polixeni Papapetrou was one of Australia’s leading contemporary photographers before her tragic death last year at the age of just 57. Best known for her images of children, particularly of her daughter Olympia and son Solomon dressed as characters from historical, artistic or imaginary settings, her work was frequently concerned with imagination, storytelling, childhood and issues of identity.

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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.