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Art gallery of NSW, Biennale of Sydney 2020
Photograph: Supplied Josep Grau-Garriga, Retaule dels penjats (Altarpiece of the Hanged People), AGNSW.

Museums, galleries and attractions now open in Sydney

We've got the latest details of when cultural venues and attractions are welcoming back the public, and what’s on

By Alannah Maher
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For all of us culture vultures, art lovers, lifelong learners and anyone just busting to go for a wander through a building other than our own homes, the closure of museums and galleries has been difficult, although necessary. Likewise, livestreams of animals have been scratching the itch, but nothing quite matches seeing creatures in person at zoos and aquariums. 

Now, thanks to Sydneysiders’ great work staying home and flattening the curve, public life is beginning to return to normal, and from June 1, cultural institutions, aquariums and animal parks are once again allowed to open their doors (with strict physical distancing and hygiene measures in place). Excitingly, the Biennale of Sydney is reopening with extended dates across multiple venues in June.

We’ve rounded up the reopening dates of Sydney's galleries, museums, zoos and aquariums – and what exhibitions you can expect to see. But make sure you’re aware of how to go out safely right now.

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Art Galleries

Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Museums The Rocks

The MCA has announced it will welcome visitors back to the gallery on Tuesday, June 16. The 22nd Biennale of Sydney, titled Nirin, will be on display, and enhanced health, safety and social distancing measures will be in place. The Museum will open on Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am–5pm, with a closure on Mondays. The MCA Store, MCA Café and Sculpture Terrace will also reopen on June 16, while Graze Restaurant will reopen on June 30.

Art Gallery of New South Wales 2017 exterior daylight August feat Archibald Prize banners (C) AGNSW photographer credit Felicity Jenkins
Photograph: Felicity Jenkins

Art Gallery of NSW

Art Sydney

The state's flagship gallery will be open again to the public from Monday, June 1. Visitors will have access to the Gallery with free, pre-booked timed-entry tickets – walk-ups will not be admitted – and physical distancing measures will be enforced throughout the gallery. The cloakroom will not be open. You can secure your timed-entry ticket here. Amongst its collections, the gallery will be showing its exhibitions for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, with powerful works from Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens and Pitjantjatjara artist Kunmanara Williams.

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A huge painting across gold panels
Photograph: Supplied

White Rabbit

Art Chippendale

Chippendale's state-of-the-art temple of contemporary Chinese art is opening again from June 6, under the usual opening hours of 10am-5pm from Wednesday to Sunday. Current exhibition And Now continues the gallery's ten-year anniversary celebrations. White Rabbit will be following government guidelines and keeping a strict limit on the number of visitors allowed in the gallery at any given time. 

Artspace

Art Woolloomooloo

This Wolloomooloo institution will reopen its doors from June 1, resuming and extending its exhibition for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, featuring the work of Aboriginal artist collective Tenant Creek Brio, and the current Ideas Platform exhibition, Kevin Diallo's Blue. Staff will be monitoring the number of people in the gallery, and ensuring that social distancing measures are adhered to.

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Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre 2016 exterior daylight 01 photographer credit Brett Boardman
Photograph: Brett Boardman

Casula Powerhouse

Art Casula

Liverpool’s Arts Centre will open its doors again from June 1, with two new exhibitions from diverse artists. Adaption invites artists living with a disability or chronic illness to adapt their artistic expression to the challenges and new potentials of working with their body, and in A Familiar Place I’ve Never Seen, artists Jomakhan Jafari and Danny Kennedy interpret the dreams of Western Sydney residents (the most multicultural area of Sydney) using Persian calligraphy and photography. In the meantime, Casula’s in-house restaurant, Bellbird Dining & Bar, is open for bookings.

Brett Whiteley Studio

Art Surry Hills

This finely preserved gallery, set in the workplace and home of late Australian artist Brett Whiteley and managed by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, will be open to the public again from June 4, with limited numbers of visitors from 10am to 4pm Thursday-Sunday. Tickets will not be required for studio visits. 

Museums

Sydney Jewish Museum

Museums Darlinghurst

The museum plans to open back up to the public from July 1, initially on Wednesdays and Sundays only. It will be launching two brand new exhibitions that were originally scheduled a week before the museum closed in March. These are Jews from Islamic Lands and Nostalgic Glimpses of a Bygone Era, a collection of paintings by Camille Fox, a Jewish artist who was born in the 'golden era' in Alexandria, Egypt.

Exterior at Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Photograph: Kit Baker

Hyde Park Barracks Museum

Museums Sydney

The Sydney Living Museums group is beginning to open back up some of its museums and historic sites from June 1, including the World Heritage-listed Hyde Park Barracks. The site will reopen from June 4, from Thursday to Sunday, between 10am and 5pm. You can learn about the history of the barracks on a 90-minute self-led audio tour. You'll also be one of the first visitors to experience the cutting-edge upgrades the museum unveiled just prior to the shutdown.

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Australian National Maritime Museum

Museums Darling Harbour

The Maritime Museum will welcome back visitors from Monday, June 22, with new exhibitions and reworked collections. For the first time you will be able to see Here: From Kupe to Cook, featuring artworks by twenty leading Aotearoa New Zealand and Australian contemporary artists who investigate the long and varied histories of South Pacific voyaging, and Under Southern Skies, a celebration of our earliest navigators. The Museum urges all visitors to pre-book online as there will be limited capacity. For weekdays you can purchase a daily ticket, and on weekends there will be two sessions from 9.30am to 1pm, and 1pm to 5pm.

Attractions

Baby baboon
Photograph: Supplied/Sydney Zoo

Sydney Zoo

Attractions Zoos Bungarribee

Sydney Zoo reopens to visitors from Saturday, June 6, just six months after it first opened. So you can still see the Zoo’s newest arrivals, a trio of baby baboons, before they grow up as well as Sydney’s only orangutans and hyenas. The Zoo will initially be open only from Friday to Sunday with limited ticketing each day, as well as the public holiday Monday on June 8, as well as school holidays. All visitors must pre-book online and are advised to plan ahead. Strict physical distancing restrictions and hygiene measures will be in place, and gatherings like the zookeeper talks and the Aboriginal Cultural Experience have been suspended in the meantime.

Wuru the dugong enjoying some lettuce.
Photograph: Joel Coleman

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

Museums Darling Harbour

This Darling Harbour aquatic haven is opening back up to the public from June 1 so you can get your fix of the briny deep. After Monday, June 8, the Aquarium will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during school term. New health and safety measures are being followed and the daily ticketed capacity has been significantly reduced to allow for physical distancing. Visitors are advised to book online in advance where possible. 

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Two giraffes at Taronga Zoo
Photograph: Supplied

Taronga Zoo

Museums Mosman

I don't know about you, but the sight of giraffes elegantly looming over the backdrop of Sydney Harbour is exactly the tonic to soothe my iso-weary soul. Good thing then that Taronga Zoo is opening back up to visitors from June 1. Tickets will only be available to purchase online, and daily visitor numbers will be capped. There's more information on the Taronga website.

Wild Life Sydney Zoo

Museums Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour's waterside zoo is opening back up to visitors from June 1 to June 8 inclusive, after which it will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during school terms. You can tick off meeting all of Australia's unique creatures here. New health and safety measures are being followed and the daily ticketed capacity has been significantly reduced to allow for physical distancing. Visitors are advised to book online in advance where possible. 

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Wonder Woman at Madame Tussauds
Photograph: Supplied

Madame Tussauds Sydney

Museums Darling Harbour

If your lockdown life has had a hole in it in the distinct shape of the chance to take selfies with life-like wax figures of celebrities, we have some good news for you. Madame Tussauds will be open to visitors again from June 1 to June 8 inclusive. After this date it will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school term. Risk-minimising measures will be in place, and the daily ticketed capacity has been significantly reduced to allow for physical distancing. Visitors are advised to purchase tickets online in advance.

Keep up to date with the rules

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