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La Trobe Reading Room in State Library of Victoria
Photograph: Mark Chew

Cheap Melbourne: Museums and galleries

Turn off the Discovery Channel and explore for real at one of these cheap museums and galleries around Melbourne

By Time Out editors
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The history of Melbourne goes way back and you don’t need to hit the history books to know it. Hit one (or more) of these places instead to learn about Melbourne's significant past and make a fun day out of it. 

Looking for more cheap experiences in Melbourne? Here is our guide to all the cheap (and free!) things to do around town

Cheap museums and galleries in Melbourne

NGV International 2015 Federation Court courtesy National Gallery of Victoria photographer credit Charlotte Ambrose
Photographer: Charlotte Ambrose

1. NGV International

Art Southbank

This grand modernist building on St Kilda Road is Australia's oldest and most popular art museum. That title has been won thanks to the gallery's top-notch and diverse permanent collection, the fantastic visiting collections and an ongoing series of additional events aimed at locals and tourists alike. The permanent collection includes a Picasso, a Rembrandt, a Bonnard and a Tiepolo – not bad for a gallery that's only been around since the mid-1800s. And you can visit the permanent collection for absolutely free, every day of the week.

Outside at Hellenic Museum
Photograph: Gordon Makryllos

2. Hellenic Museum

Museums History Melbourne

Dedicated to the preservation of Greek culture, history and settlement in Australia, the Hellenic Museum is the product of one man's extraordinary private collection: art historian AD Trendall.

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3. Victoria Police Museum

Museums Docklands

Stories about Melbourne's underworld, cunning criminals and the role Victoria's coppers have played in protecting our city throughout history abound at this free museum, which houses forensic evidence, crime scene photos and Kelly gang armour.

Reading room state Library
Photograph: Creative Commons

4. State Library of Victoria

Attractions Libraries Melbourne

Most exhibitions are free at the State Library of Victoria. When you're done browsing, lounge in the resplendent La Trobe Reading Room with a book in hand and congratulate yourself on being so cultured.

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Melbourne Central Coop's Shot Tower
Photograph: CC/Rexness

5. Coops Shot Tower

Shopping Melbourne

Located inside Melbourne Central, the Coops Shot Tower is one of only three 19th century shot towers remaining in Australia. The second level houses a small, free museum on the history of shot manufacture.

Plane at Royal Australian Air Force Museum
Photograph: CC/Bidgee

6. RAAF Museum

Museums Point Cook

Over in Point Cook the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Museum is on the site of the birthplace of the Australian Flying Corps and the RAAF.

More thrifty thrills in Melbourne

Birrarung Marr
Photograph: Roberto Seba

Cheap things to do in Melbourne

Things to do

No money? No problem! We've pinched our pennies to bring you the ultimate guide on how to eat, drink and have a great time in Melbourne on a budget.

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