Whether you're visiting from overseas or a curious local looking to get beyond the basics (Dot paintings? Bark paintings? Just the tip of the iceberg), these are the places to see the best of Australia's diverse Indigenous art practice.
Public institutions and collections
The AGNSW has a broad collection of works on paper, bark and canvas, as well as sculptures, fibre works, photomedia and multimedia – of which only a small proportion are on display at any given time. Their current hang includes works by key contemporary artists Vernon Ah Kee and Daniel Boyd. Access to these works is free.
The MCA is home to the Ramingining Collection (bark paintings, carved-wood sculptures and functional objects from northeastern Arnhem Land), the Maningrida Collection (works primarily in fibre) and the ‘Arnott’s Bark’ collection of paintings on bark. Besides these permanent collections, the MCA contains many works by Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander artists, which will rotate through the Level 2 gallery as part of the exhibition MCA Volume One – including works by Gordon Bennett, Daniel Boyd, John Mawurndjul and Fiona Foley, among others.
Commercial galleries and artist co-ops
This not-for-profit cooperative was formed in 1987 by a group of local artists, including Michael Riley, Brenda L Croft, Tracey Moffatt and Bronwyn Bancroft. Reacting against the media’s fetish for ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ art, Boomalli spearheaded the urban Indigenous art movement in Australia. They continue to showcase work by founding members, emerging artists, and from Greater Sydney and regional NSW.
Christopher Hodge's gallery, established in 1989 when "contemporary Aboriginal art" was a relatively new concept for the art world, shows both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, but it's named after the Utopia community in the Northern Territory. The UAS stable includes major Utopia artists like Gloria Petyarre and the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye.