The gallery houses important Australian, Indigenous, Asian, American and European masterpieces, including Jackson Pollock’s ‘Blue Poles’
Opened in 1982 and renovated in 2010, Australia’s national gallery houses important Australian, Indigenous, Pacific, Asian, American and European masterpieces, including Jackson Pollock’s ‘Blue Poles’ and Constantin Brancusi’s ‘Bird in Space’. In 2015 the NGA established a department of contemporary international arts practice, focusing on post-millennial art, particularly moving image, performance and installation.
It's worth the trek to Canberra for the NGA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art collection – the largest in the world, comprised of over 7500 works, and displayed in a purpose-built wing. In fact the first artwork you encounter as you step into the NGA’s foyer is the Ramingining artists’ ‘Aboriginal Memorial’ (1987-88), an installation featuring 200 hollow log coffins from central Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory. Unveiled in conjunction with the Bicentenary, the work commemorates the deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across 200 years of colonisation.
The NGA also has one of Californian artist James Turrell’s ‘Skyspaces’ as part of its collection: a site-specific built environment situated in the Australian Garden, with a hole in the ceiling from which a ‘screen’ of sky can be seen, and within which the quality and colour of light appears to change throughout the day. Make sure you check the best viewing times before your visit.
The other major ‘must see’ at the NGA is the Sculpture Garden, which features work by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Clement Meadmore, Inge King and more, as well as an installation of Pukamani burial poles (1979–84) from Bathurst and Melville Islands. If you visit Marsh Pond between 12.30 and 2pm, you’ll see Fujiko Nakaya's fog sculpture in eerie operation, sending waves of mist over the 66 bronze heads, emerging from the water, that comprise Indonesian artist Dadang Christanto’s ‘Heads from the North’ memorial (2004).
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