Australia is world-renowned for its diversity of landscapes, but did you know that the country also has many interesting museums to visit? Many of them are found in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, but there are many fascinating museums scattered all throughout the country.
Each offering an abundance of information and a great day out in Australia. Learn more about Indigenous Australia, the European settlement, ancient and modern art, technology and so much more. We have listed 9 of our favourite museums to visit in Australia. Which museum would you like to visit?
9 of the best museums in Australia
# 1 Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve
One of the attractions in Alice Springs, in Australia's Red Centre is the historic telegraph station, which is located four-kilometres, north of the town. It is one of the best-preserved telegraph stations of the Overland Telegraph Line, which was commissioned in 1872 for sending messages between Adelaide and Darwin.
The original stone buildings have been restored and equipped with furniture and tools from the early 20th century. The station, which has been in operation for over 60 years, is also where the city of Alice Springs was founded. After the station was decommissioned, it served as a school for Indigenous children, over a long period of time.
The historic telegraph station is located next to the Stuart Highway, with the backdrop of the mountains of the MacDonnell Ranges. It can be reached by regular car or by using the Alice Springs Wanderer Bus.
# 2 Arts Centre Melbourne
The Arts Centre Melbourne is located on St Kilda Road. It can be easily recognized from further away by its tall spike on top of the building. It is one of the most striking buildings in the city, as well as Australia's largest and busiest centre for the performing arts, with thousands of shows and millions of visitors each year.
The Arts Centre acts as a host and partner of all national music, opera, theatre and dance companies. The massive complex includes the intimate Fairfax Studio, the imposing Playhouse and National Theater, Hamer Hall and the open-air Sydney Myer Music Bowl.
There are also restaurants, bars, shops and a Sunday market. Here, you can purchase all kinds of artefacts, reproductions and other items. The Arts Centre also includes the Performing Arts Collection, Australia's largest and most important collection of the arts with over 500,000 items. Parts of this collection are exhibited regularly all over Australia and worldwide.
# 3 Australian Museum, Sydney
For more than 180 years, the Australian Museum in Sydney has played a leading role in scientific research and education. Founded in 1827, this is the oldest museum in Australia and is housed in a building designed by architect, Mortimer Lewis. Expanding over time, from the corner of College Street and William Street in central Sydney.
Over time, the museum has grown into an internationally renowned institution, with more than 18 million objects spread across natural science and cultural collections. The cultural collection includes important ethnological and archaeological material related to Aboriginal culture, as well as Asian, African and American cultures.
Natural science activities include the study of the unique flora and fauna of Australia and the Pacific. An important role of this study is the ecology of the coral reef. As a part of this, a special research station has been put into use on Lizard Island. The Australian Museum, which also has an extensive library and archive, is open every day of the week.
# 4 Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Hyde Park Barracks Museum is located at the Queens Square/ Macquarie Street intersection. It was built in 1819 as a shelter for forced male labourers. The impressive brick building was designed by architect Francis Greenway, who was himself a forced labourer. From 1848, women also stayed there and the building was renamed Hyde Park Asylum.
In 1887, the name was changed again, this time to Chancery Square, when it housed officials. Today, Hyde Park Barracks is a museum that tells an engaging story in an interactive way. The history of the thousands of men and women who lived there over a period of 190 years.
This history is brought to life through paintings and drawings, objects and artefacts. Hyde Park Barracks is one of the most important colonial-era buildings in Australian history. You will become acquainted with the forced labourers of the past and their history.
The museum is part of the Historic Houses Trust, a partnership of 12 of the most important historic houses and museums in the state of New South Wales. It is open every day of the week.
# 5 Melbourne Museum
The Melbourne Museum highlights the history, culture and environment of the State of Victoria. The collections are divided into four sections:
- Plants and animals
- Stones and fossils
- History and technology
- Indigenous culture
Some of the main attractions include a complete whale skeleton, a living rainforest in the Forest Gallery and the Milarri Garden which has native plants and includes explanations of its use for medicinal purposes.
You can also view a cave with Aboriginal paintings and live animals, an IMAX theatre and the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Here, visitors can learn about the Koorie, the Aboriginal people from South-eastern Victoria, through art and tools, stories and performances.
You can find this interesting museum in Nicholson Street/ Carlton Gardens, opposite the Royal Exhibition Building. The museum is open daily.
# 6 Museum of Sydney
The Museum of Sydney is located at the corner of Bridge Street and Philip Street. And stands on historic ground. This was once the residence of the colony's governor, Arthur Philip, from 1788. Foundations of the old building can still be seen.
The installation ‘Edge of the Trees’ marks the spot where contact was first established between the British settlers and the Aboriginal-Gadigal people. The museum highlights the history of the city from its inception and its development over the past 200 years.
The collection includes many objects that were part of the inventory or were their personal property under the rule of 9 governors. You will find a wealth of colonial furnishings, portraits and memorabilia by leading local artists and craftsmen.
The museum is part of the Historic Houses Trust, also known as Sydney Living Museums, a partnership of 12 of the most important historic houses and museums in the state of New South Wales. This also includes the Government House, Justice & Police Museum, The Mint and Vaucluse House. The Museum of Sydney is open every day of the week.
# 7 Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Welcome to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney. Since the end of March 2012, this important museum of modern art has been reopened to the public after a thorough restoration and extensive expansion. Located on George Street in The Rocks, the oldest part of Sydney, it gives a good overview of the development of Australian modern art over the last 20 years.
The museum has a permanent collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, films and video installations. And includes work by Aboriginal artists and Torres Strait Islands. Well-known Australian artists such as Fiona Hall, Aleks Danko, Simon Yates and Robert Owen are also represented.
An entire floor has been reserved for the permanent collection, where the works are shown in varying exhibitions. The museum also regularly organises one-off exhibitions. There is an extensive library and archive for those looking for more information. The MCA is open 7 days a week and admission is free. There are also free guided tours, every day.
# 8 National Museum of Australia, Canberra
The National Museum of Australia opened in 1980 and is located in the capital, Canberra. The current building on Lawson Crescent, on the edge of Burley Griffin Lake, dates from 2001 and is a creation from the architects, Ashton Raggatt McDougall and Robert Peck von Hartel. It has a playful shape that makes it stand out from far away. A post-modern construction that illustrates the diversity of the museum.
The exhibitions, collections and research programs focus on 3 themes:
- The history and culture of the Aboriginal people of Australia and the inhabitants of the Torres Strait Islands
- The history of Australia since 1788
- The relationship between the inhabitants and their land.
The collections are grouped by subject, including agriculture, arts, clothing, environment, gold mining, industry and science, technology and sports. The museum has a shop, extensive archives and a library. It is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and admission is free.
# 9 National Sports Museum, Melbourne
Australia's National Sports Museum is a household name in this sports-crazy country. You can find it in Melbourne in the complex of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). A sight not to be missed if you are visiting Melbourne and are a sports fan.
The museum offers permanent and temporary exhibitions on all kinds of sports with an emphasis on cricket and Australian football. It is an exciting mix of information on sports, cultural heritage, and modern audiovisual and interactive entertainment.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground is Australia's premier sports stadium. Dating back to 1853, it has been on the National Heritage List since 2005. It is open to the public every day and you can take part in an approximately 75 minutes guided tour, at least on days when there is no major game.
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