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  1. Two people stand in front of a video installation showing a rainbow of colours
    Photograph: Arts Centre Melbourne
  2. A choir dressed in black sing amongst an art installation of giant white skulls
    Photograph: Art After Dark
  3. The ceiling of the State Library is lit up with an underwater art projection
    Photograph: James Braund

The best things to see at Art After Dark

Explore the city at night this weekend at an arty festival filled with performances, pop ups and Instagrammable moments

Written by Bianca O'Neill
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Melbourne hasn't had a dedicated late-night cultural event – until now. The inaugural Art After Dark kicks off for two days only, Friday May 13 and Saturday May 14, with a series of exciting events set to light up the city. 

Enjoy late-night entry to exhibitions, IMAX screenings of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, celestial cocktails, food trucks, and music under the night sky until 1am each night. Here are our top picks not to miss this weekend.

Love visual art and getting out of town? Check out these top-tier regional galleries.

The best things to see at Art After Dark

  • Film
  • Fantasy

While Benedict Cumberbatch’s original solo outing, directed by Scott Derrickson, delivered a cerebral LSD trip with a sinister inflection, Raimi’s penchant for gore is executed to euphoric effect. His nose for those old Spidey themes of responsibility and power, meanwhile, manifest in the three suitably weighty central performances.

 

Sure, Raimi’s latest Marvel entry is a theme-park ride, lighter on character development and heavier on gnarly shit that may signal a shift into a darker, more deranged phase of superhero storytelling. But it’s one hell of a ride. See it at IMAX during Art After Dark.

  • Museums
  • History
  • Carlton

Showcasing a collection items from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, it's the first time many of these artifacts have travelled from Greece to be hosted internationally. With 44 ancient works that date from the early bronze age to the Roman period, the exhibition highlights the trade of culture between Greece and its neighbours.

Some of the key pieces on display include a beautifully preserved, 400kg sculpture of the head of Zeus, an impressive marble sphinx depicting a female head with the body of a winged lion, and a gold Theseus Ring discovered in the ancient city centre of Athens.

 

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  • Art
  • Southbank

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. 

 

Historically, the voices and stories of those who are queer have been sanitised if not outright ignored. Queer will make a point to highlight this – while the exhibition will not present a full history of queer art, it will reflect on the gaps in the history it does present. 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Carlton

Triceratops: Fate of the Dinosaurs takes over two levels of Melbourne Museum in an exhibition that tracks the story of the dinosaurs from from the perspective of Horridus – i.e. that of a triceratops. Guests are plunged into the Cretaceus period for the exhibit, where they'll learn about the world in which Horridus lived and the creatures the dino lived alongside. 

As part of the exhibition, you'll of course also be able to gaze in wonder at Horridus, the most complete triceratops skeleton in the world. This big guy comprises of 266 bones and tips the scales at more than 1,000kg. 

Best art and exhibitions this month

  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Southbank

The NGV is bringing more than 80 of Picasso's works to Melbourne, organised into 12 thematic sections – and yes, Cubism is more than ably represented. 

The works of more than 60 of his contemporaries are also included in the exhibition, carefully and thoughtfully curated by scholar of 20th-century painting Didier Ottinger, deputy director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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  • Art
  • Melbourne

The UK's Tate museum is known as one of the world's foremost art institutions – but this winter you won't have to even leave Melbourne to see works from this renowned gallery. 

Light: Works from Tate’s Collection is bringing more than 70 works from the Tate's impressive national collection to ACMI as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series. It will be supported by a series of talks, performances, film screenings, workshops and events that will further reflect (pun intended) on the themes within the exhibition. 

Light: Works from Tate’s Collection opens at ACMI June 16, 2022. 

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Southbank

The NGV's Friday Nights series is back for another round, and this time the gallery is pairing a string of gigs alongside the highly anticipated exhibition the Picasso Century.

Performing in the NGV's Great Hall every Friday night from 10 June to early October, this season's line-up features performances from the likes of Ngaiire, Birdsnake, Emma Donovan and the Putbacks, Polly and the Pockets, and heaps more. To tie in with the exhibition, taking this year's Garden Restaurant residency is Bar Lourinhã.

NGV Friday Nights runs June 10 to October 7. Tickets are available now on the NGV website

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  • Things to do
  • Pop-up locations
  • Melbourne

After a two-year delay due to Covid-19, immersive light installation Lightscape is finally arriving in Melbourne this winter. From July 24 to August 7, take a nighttime stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens and experience luminous pathways, lit-up tree canopies and soothing soundscapes. 

The show includes large-scale installations, sparkling trees, floating lights, glowing archways and fields of light and colour along the 1.8km trail through the gardens. Tickets start at $32 and are on sale now through the website

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  • Art
  • Installation
  • Southbank

There's always one totally Instagrammable art piece at every festival – and at Rising this year, Kaleidoscope is surely it. 

Keith Courtney, the artist behind the popular 1000 Doors and House of Mirrors art installations, delivers a kaleidoscopic mirror maze of constantly shifting coloured lights that will transport you right into the centre of the much-loved children's toy. 

  • 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.

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  • 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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