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A woman holds a yellow corded phone in a replica nineties video store
Photograph: Eugene Hyland

The best art and exhibitions in Melbourne this month

Discover the city's best art, exhibitions and events happening this April

Ashleigh Hastings
Written by
Ashleigh Hastings

April 2024: The weather is cooling down, but Melbourne's art galleries are still running hot. Over at ACMI, embark on a sublime sensory journey at the world premiere of Marshmallow Laser Feast's Works of Nature. For a look at some First Nations art, head to Watercolour Country or Wurrdha Marra. For those who like to travel without the need for a passport, take a virtual trip with Icons: A Steve McCurry Retrospective.

There's always something to see in this all-embracing city of ours, so don't let the month pass you by without getting your fix of the best art, culture and exhibitions in Melbourne this March.

When in doubt, you can also always rely on our catch-all lists of Melbourne's best bars, restaurants, museums, parks and galleries, or consult our bucket list of 101 things to do in Melbourne before you die

Keen to add some art to your home? These are the best places to buy art in Melbourne.

Melbourne's best art and exhibitions this month

  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • Melbourne

The Immigration Museum on Flinders Street is getting its first major exhibition in several years and it’s all about leaning into what makes us happy. The exhibition, called Joy, opens on Friday, March 1 and will run through until August 29, 2024.

Joy features seven brand new commissioned installations from leading Victorian-based creatives, each expressing the artists’ own personal joy. You can expect an emotive adventure where colour and storytelling combine, and big happy moments that sit alongside more reflective ones.

Experience the vibrant power of joy as you walk amongst room-sized interactive artworks, or contribute your own joy with the collaborative ‘share your joy’ wall.

Venezuelan-born Australian artist Nadia Hernández has filled the Immigration Museum’s hallway with bold collage works, ‘future positive’ fashion designer Nixi Killick has created a ‘joy generator’ and queer artist Spencer Harrison has created a runway where you can strut your stuff.

Jazz Money, a Wiradjuri poet and artist, has fused sculpture, audio and mural for a work reflecting the history of the museum site, while local artist Beci Orpin has taken over a room with a giant toy rabbit made to be hugged. Afghanistan-Australian visual artist and poet Elyas Alavi and Sher Ali have also created a large-scale mural illustrating a Persian myth. 

Lastly, much-loved pop artist and designer Callum Preston has constructed a full-scale replica of a nineties video store, a joy he never thought he would miss until he realised it was gone.

Entry to Joy is included in the museum’s entry price, which is $15 for adults, $10 for kids and free for children and concession holders. Find out more and get tickets here.

Want more? Check out the best art and exhibitions in Melbourne this month.

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Flemington

For most of us, Lego is a nostalgic hobby from bygone childhood years, but there are an exceptional few who took these tiny building blocks from a fun pastime to the next level. Lego artist Nathan Sawaya is one of these talented individuals who is showcasing his fascinating sculptures with a new exhibition that has to be seen to be believed. 

The Art of the Brick Immersive Experience exhibition features more than 100 contemporary artworks, all crafted using more than one million Lego bricks to make large-scale, life-like creations. 

After a sold-out season back in 2011, it's returning to our city as part of a huge world tour with brand new pieces, having already visited 100 cities across 24 countries. Sawaya is the only person in the world who has the double title of Lego Master Model Builder and Lego Certified Professional. Whoa. 

Some of the works showcased in the exhibition include a giant version of Sawaya's most famous sculpture, 'Yellow', which stands at more than six feet tall, plus an installation with 250 kinetic Lego skulls, a piece called 'Infinity Rainbow' that features seven life-sized sculptures, the 30-foot long 'Big Swimmer', dazzling 360-degree digital projections and lots more.

The Art of the Brick Immersive Experience opens on April 14 at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Tickets go on sale on March 21 at 7pm, and you can sign up for the waitlist here. Find out more about the exhibition at the website

Looking for more things to do? Check out our guide to what's on.

  • Art
  • Photography
  • Williamstown

We all know the story of the Afghan Girl. The searing portrait of an anonymous Afghan child with a pair of wildly green eyes has stood the test of time and war – its beauty, mystery and ability to wordlessly capture of the pain of a nation are all things that have struck a chord with millions of people since it was published by National Geographic back in 1985. 

This groundbreaking snapshot is the work of American photographer Steve McCurry, whose vivid shots of the most colourful and obscure people and corners of the world have been seen in more places than most of us can count. And now, they’re all on the way to Melbourne. 

As of February 28, Melbourne will become home to one of the most complete retrospectives of McCurry’s work ever seen. Named Icons, the exhibition will feature more than 100 large-format photographs of McCurry’s most famous images, including (of course), the portrait of Sharbat Gula, otherwise known as the 'Afghan Girl'.

This exhibition gives Melburnians the chance to wander through time, history and the most remote corners of the world. Get transported to a desert in Jordan, a dust storm in rural India, an oil field in ‘90s Kuwait, and a silent green river in Kashmir – along with a whole host of other wild and wonderful places. No matter where you go with McCurry, humanity – in all its complex, beautiful contradictions – is always the protagonist. 

All of this visceral travel will be going down at Seaworks Maritime Precinct in Williamstown from February 28 to May 19. Prices start from $29 for adults and $19 for children. Kids aged nine or younger can enter for free. Tickets are on sale from Tuesday, Feb 6 at 6pm – get yours or join the waitlist here.

Plan your next day out with our guide to the best art and exhibitions in Melbourne this month

  • Art
  • Installation
  • Southbank

You’ve likely seen the ‘Temple of Boom’ standing tall in the NGV Garden, but now there’s a new architectural work set to take shape in the gallery’s outdoor space. Building on a series of annual commissions including the much-loved Pink Pond and the aforementioned colourful Greek-style temple, this year’s NGV Architecture Commission has been announced and it’s sure to be just as breathtaking as its predecessors. However, unlike previous installations, this one will actually be doing the breathing.

Opening on November 23, ‘(This is) Air’ will see a giant inflatable sphere that literally inhales and exhales throughout the day become the centrepiece of the garden. The balloon-like structure will morph throughout the day as it draws in and releases air in a natural rhythm. If you get close enough, you may even get to feel a gust as the sphere ‘exhales’. 

The work will be created by award-winning Australian architect Nic Brunsdon in conjunction with Eness, a St Kilda-based art installation studio. At more than 14 metres tall, ‘(This is) Air’ seeks to make the invisible visible, drawing attention to the significance of the air we breathe. By making air seen, heard and felt, the work will encourage visitors to consider their connection with and dependency on air as a finite resource. 

“The idea for the project was conceived by the architect during the global pandemic, when the air we breathed was suddenly at the forefront of everyone’s mind”, says Ewan McEoin, NGV’s senior curator of contemporary art, design and architecture. “Air can be understood as part of our global economic, social and ecological realities. And yet, the quality of air we breathe varies depending on where and how we live. Air is universal, yet clean air is not.” 

‘(This is) Air’ forms part of the upcoming 2023 NGV Triennial, which will bring together architecture, contemporary art and design with a theme of ‘magic, matter and memory’. Over the summer, the installation will play host to public programs and performances in the NGV Garden.

Want more? Check out Melbourne's best public artworks. Plus, these are the best exhibitions happening this month.

  • Art
  • Installation
  • Carlton

Traversing time and space, Wurrdha Marra is a new exhibition celebrating the diversity of First Nations art and design. From October 12, the ground floor and foyer of the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia will become a dynamic and ever-changing exhibition space that displays masterpieces and never-before-shown works from the NGV’s First Nations collection.

Translating to ‘many mobs’ in the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung language, Wurrdha Marra will showcase pieces from emerging and established artists from across Australia, including Tony Abert, Treahna Hamn, Kent Morris, Marlene Gilson, Rover Thomas, Christian Thompson, Gary Lee, Nicole Monks, Gali Yalkarriwuy, Dhambit Mungunggurr, Nonggirrnga Marawili and more. 

Highlights of the free exhibition include a large-scale installation of fish traps produced by Burrara women from Maningrida – the objects have been crafted over weeks using vines from the bush. Also on display is a new collection of contemporary resin boomerangs by Keemon Williams, a First Nations queer artist hailing from Meanjin/Brisbane. Another unseen work is titled History Repeats by Girramay/Yidinji/Kuku Yalanji contemporary artist Tony Albert, who has used mass-produced objects – from tea towels to ashtrays – to reframe Indigenous histories. 

Altogether, the display offers a rich journey through pivotal moments in Australian art history from 65,000 years of First Peoples practices right through to the present day.

Wurrdha Marra will be open from October 12 at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Fed Square. Entry is free, and you can access further information by visiting the NGV website here


  • Art
  • Melbourne

Lovers of the written word rejoice; a free exhibition over at the State Library Victoria is spotlighting the history of book design, production and illustration from the Middle Ages to the present day. World of the Book features more than 300 rare, remarkable, historically significant items in the State Collection, each unravelling a unique story from its pages. 

This year’s themes hone in on books and ideas; books and imagination; art and nature; artists and books; and Egyptology to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb. 

Exhibition highlights include a book on astronomy as far back as 336CE, a 17th-century book defaced by cat paw prints, rare editions of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass on display and an edition of Mary Shelley’s science-friction masterpiece Frankenstein. Printed during the author’s lifetime, it is the first edition to contain a preface where Shelley recounts the story of the novel’s inception: on the shores of Lake Geneva during a thunderstorm where Mary, her husband Percy Shelley and Lord Byron competed with one another to tell the best ghoulish story. 

World of the Book also includes several masterpieces by female writers on show for the first time, such as an embroidered binding that belonged to Henrietta Maria, the Queen Consort married to King Charles I until he was executed. The physicist Émilie du Châtelet’s most recognised achievement, her French translation of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, is also featured in the exhibit

Running until May 12, 2024, you’ll find World of the Book at the Dome Galleries, Level 4 of the State Library Victoria. For more information, visit the website here.

Love art? Check out what other art exhibitions are happening in Melbourne this month. Plus, these are the most beautiful libraries in Melbourne.

  • Art
  • Street art
  • Melbourne

Supported by the City of Melbourne, Flash Forward is Melbourne’s most ambitious street art project, with over 40 large-scale works commissioned and set to hit the laneways of Melbourne.

From Mountjoy’s ‘Your Turn’ on Little Lonsdale Street standing over six metres tall with vibrant pops of colour, through to LING’s gargantuan sculptural piece ‘Crushed Can’ on Wills Street paying homage to the city’s graffiti scene, Flash Forward is encouraging exploration with an element of surprise, as pieces seem to pop up across the city overnight.

If you’re interested in taking yourself on a laneway tour, there’s an interactive and printable map available on the Flash Forward website.

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