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

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

Melbourne's summer of art is in full swing: the NGV's blockbuster paying tribute to street art legends Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat is 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 ACCA's fascinating and futuristic Feedback Loops as well as the always brilliant exhibition celebrating the Koorie Art Show.

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 January

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. 

Courtesy of the artist and Bank Gallery, Shanghai
Tianzhuo Chen with Andrew Thomas Huang, 'Exo-performance / Beio' 2019 (still)

Feedback Loops

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA, Southbank

The real, the fictive and the speculative roll together as one in this exhibition that asks six Australian and international artists to sample and reinterpret real and imagined characters and events from their past and present in order to understand and speculate upon the feature.

Koorie Art Show 2019 supplied Koorie Heritage Trust
Image: Teena Moffatt 'Nanyak Nharebula Gana #1 (Mother Shield Design)', 2018
Art, Galleries

The Koorie Art Show

Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne

The Koorie Art Show is the largest Indigenous art prize in Victoria, featuring artists at the very start of their career alongside long-standing arts leaders. Each year, the Koorie Heritage Trust's Federation Square Gallery hosts a free exhibition of every entry, offering a brilliant opportunity to see the richness of Indigenous art in the 21st century. 

En Route: Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler Heide Moma 2019 supplied
Photograph: Christian Capurro

En Route: Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler

Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen

Nature has always played a key role at Heide. Originally six hectares of rundown farmland on the outskirts of Melbourne, over almost 50 years art lovers John and Sunday Reed transformed the site into a haven for artists such as Sidney Nolan and Albert Tucker. Now artists Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler are honouring that connection, creating site-specific installations that respond to the modernist building Heide II.


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.

The Sky After Rain Manningham Art Gallery supplied 2019
Photograph: Pippa Samaya

The Sky After Rain

Manningham Art Gallery, Doncaster

The stories of three queer Iranian diasporas, Payam, Shyla and Shaya, are told in this exhibition that explores the taboo of being LGBTQIA in Iranian communities. Dancer Tara Jade Samaya is at the centre of three video installations that question what it means to be a queer voice in a society that actively represses those voices.

Sinofuturists, Lu Yang
Photograph: Supplied
Art, Digital and interactive


Multiple venues

Multimedia artists including Lu Yang, Howie Lee and Alex Wang will combine immersive gaming environments, traditional Chinese music, digital avatars and civic ethics in a series of boundary-pushing works and discussions for the Sinofuturists program, part of Asia TOPA 2020. 

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

Rain Room

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.

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.

An installation of a red crocheted bear standing on a matching red crocheted landscape
Photograph: Supplied
Art, Installation

Between Appearances: the Art of Louise Weaver

Buxton Contemporary, Southbank

The whimsical, warped and often woven worlds of Louise Weaver are at Buxton Contemporary this summer. Between Appearances: the Art of Louise Weaver draws together three decades of the artist’s work and peers into her constant exploration of growth, transformation and the natural world. 

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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.