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The ceiling of the State Library is lit up with an underwater art projection
Photograph: James Braund

The best art and exhibitions in Melbourne this month

Discover Melbourne's best art exhibitions and events happening this month

Written by Bianca O'Neill
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This May in the city, Art After Dark celebrates the night with a series of late-night exhibitions, events and music, and The Lume is encouraging art lovers to get physical with a series of yoga classes under the glow of rotating digital art. Or, spend some time with the 'king of kink' at a huge Helmut Newton exhibition, experience the Overview Effect while viewing a giant glowing Earth at Gaia, and check out Australia’s largest ever photography event.

Meanwhile, regional is host to a huge exhibition on the king of rock'n'roll himself, Elvis Presley, as well as an excellent collection of Indigenous art at the newly opened Hubert Estate. Or, check out a 5.5m KAWS sculpture at Pt Leo Estate Sculpture Park.

Get your fix of the best art and culture in Melbourne this month with some of our top picks below.

Want to try some arty classes for yourself? Check out our list of the best arty classes on in Melbourne this month.

Melbourne's best exhibitions this month

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Bendigo

Elvis: Direct from Graceland is a major new exhibition coming exclusively to the Bendigo Art Gallery, and it's set to explore Elvis Presley – his life and his work – in one of the most comprehensive exhibitions in Australia. 

Bendigo Art Gallery has collaborated with the Graceland archives to get unprecedented access, presenting around 300 artefacts belonging to Elvis himself and is flying in direct from his Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee.

  • Things to do
  • Pop-up locations
  • South Wharf

Melbourne's premier cutting edge digital gallery Lume made waves last year with the launch of the immersive Van Gogh exhibition, and now it's transforming into a multi-sensory yoga studio. Every Wednesday between April 27 and May 25, you're invited to pop in to stretch and limber up with a session led by Happy Melon Studios

Each week will have a different nature theme, including calming rainforests, the awe-inspiring Himalayas and outer space. For more information or to book a class, head to the website.

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  • Art
  • Sculpture and installations
  • Merricks

Not all galleries need to be housed inside a building. Pt Leo Estate's Sculpture Park is 330 acres of undulating landscape dotted with 60 large-scale sculptural works from an impressive list of talent, including KAWS, George Rickey, Tony Cragg, Inge King, Boaz Vaadia, Tomnakatsu Matsuyama, Barry Flanagan, Julian Opie, Bruce Armstrong and Lenton Parr.

The constantly evolving lineup of artists added their epic 5.5m tall work 'Share 2020' by prolific artist Kaws back in 2020 – but after being locked inside for a few years now, it still seems like a newbie for us Melburnians.

  • Art
  • Sculpture and installations
  • Melbourne

UK artist Luke Jerram returns to Melbourne with Gaia, following a successful season showing his illuminated installation, Museum of the Moon, in Federation Square. This time around, the Earth is his subject: a 7-metre wide, internally-lit sculpture rendered with detailed NASA imagery of our beloved blue planet, rotating once every four minutes. The artwork is accompanied by a bespoke soundtrack made by BAFTA Award-winning composer Dan Jones.

Experience it yourself at St Paul's Cathedral for free until 26 June.

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Yorta Yorta and Gunditjmara artist Josh Muir passed away in February 2022. To honour his memory, one of his final artworks – a huge set of five art-emblazoned letters spelling out 'Fed Sq' – graces the forecourt of Federation Square until late May. Each letter explores the history of the site it sits upon.

You can also see an exhibition of Muir's works at the & Gallery Pop Up Space, located in the Atrium of Fed Square, opposite The Ian Potter Centre.

Bianca O'Neill Arts & Culture Editor
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  • Art
  • Photography
  • Melbourne

Australia's largest and most significant photography event returns to Melbourne as Photo 2022, running until May 22. In its second year, the festival's chosen theme is 'Being Human' permeating the works displayed throughout the event. 

Artistic director for the festival, Elias Redstone, says: "Melbourne is famous for its culture, cuisine and fashion. Now, through Photo 2022, Melbourne’s role as a capital of photography can also be acknowledged."

Photo 2022 launches in Melbourne April 29, 2022.

  • Art
  • Southbank

The NGV will celebrate the stories and perspectives of our queer communities in a landmark new exhibition set to open in 2022. Queer is the most comprehensive Australian survey of art relating to queer themes to date, with more than 300 works pulled from the NGV collection to be exhibited across five galleries at the NGV International. 

Works on show will reflect the many ways the word "queer" can be used, from a representation of gender and sexuality to a philosophy and political movement.

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  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Bulleen

Sidney Nolan: Search for Paradise presents 81 works from the artist that look back over his career and his relationship to Heide (and its original owners, John and Sunday Reed) as part of the gallery's 40th anniversary celebrations.

The exhibition showcases Nolan's work through six themes. These include Childhood Heaven (peering into Nolan's youth growing up in St Kilda), Garden of Eden (Nolan's formative years creating at Heide), The Promised Land (following Nolan's travels to Europe, Africa and Antarctica in the 1950s) and Paradise Garden (which brings Nolan's 'Paradise Garden' drawings to life as an immersive installation). 

Want to try some art for yourself?

  • Art

Looking for something to help develop your artistic side? Want to fill your diary with something other than gym sessions, or simply keen for a fun night out with a twist? Well, look no longer: we've pulled together all our favourite artsy classes on offer in Melbourne this month that can entertain as well as inspire.

Check out our list of the best of the bunch below. Bring a friend or ride solo, but remember – if you don't share your masterpiece on socials, it didn't really happen...

Looking to get outside the gallery?

  • 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. 

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