Take a cultural tour of Melbourne’s world-class museums, edgy artist-run spaces and blockbuster exhibitions. All without spending a cent!

A large hall with a stained glass ceiling.

NGV International

Old and new, beautiful and challenging, NGV International brings a world of art to Melbourne. The city’s premier art gallery has an ever-changing slew of free exhibits to peruse. See powerful, contemporary art, design and architecture at NGV Triennial. Explore homegrown art and exhibitions at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV. Current exhibition, Wurrdha Marra features art and design from First Nations peoples across time and place. Focusing on the importance of passing down cultural knowledge and also creating new forms of expression.

A couple in a gallery looking up at a sign that says count down.

ACMI

From films to video games, ACMI celebrates screen culture past and present. Get behind the camera at ACMI’s free exhibition, The Story of the Moving Image. From the birth of film to today’s digital wonders, there’s more than a century of movie history to explore. And you can get hands-on at this fun cinema showcase, with animation and sound effects to play with.

Sculpture of anime character and paintings in a gallery.

Tolarno Galleries

For a small gallery, Tolarno sure has hosted some big names in art. Step inside this hidden space to see incredible exhibitions of contemporary art and design. The early days saw the likes of Picasso, Bonnard and Matisse gracing the walls of the gallery. More recently, art lovers admired works by legendary Aussie artist Patricia Piccinini. Whoever is showing, you're bound to see something special.

A wall covered in framed images and photographs and displayed very close together.

Art and Heritage Collection Tour

See a Foster's beer tower from the good old days, retro Moomba Monarch crowns and a bottle of spumante dating back to who knows when. For the first time ever, City of Melbourne's Art and Heritage Collection is opening its doors to the public for free guided tours. This is your chance to access to some of Melbourne’s most weird and wonderful treasures and historical archives.

Two people walking past a wall covered in concert posters.

Australian Music Vault

If you’re musically inclined, the Australian Music Vault is a must. It’s a great overview of Melbourne’s backstage sounds and stories. Watch rare footage and see iconic objects like Kylie Minogue’s stage outfits and notebooks belonging to Nick Cave. The free exhibition is permanently on show at Arts Centre Melbourne.

People walking past City Gallery, located within the Melbourne Town Hall building in Swanston Street.

City Gallery

The City Gallery presents free, quarterly exhibitions on city life; past and present. Pop in to the gallery at Melbourne Town Hall to see Elements of the city's collection, an eclectic range of 8000 artworks and artefacts.

Science Gallery Melbourne

Deep dive into the unseen and the unknown at Dark Matters. The exhibition explores the fundamental essence of life and the universe. Focusing on language, light and technology. Melbourne's one and only Science Gallery is home to some of the most unusual art installations in town. With an aim to get young people excited about science. Their exhibitions are always evolving, keep your eyes peeled for the next one that pops up.

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

From music to educational talks, screenings and more the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) will have you coming back again and again. Spot the iconic rust-red building along Southbank and head in to explore local and international art. Keep an eye out for pop-up events and teachings.

Melbourne's best small, independent and artist-run galleries

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

Curated contemporary art space in the iconic Nicholas Building.

Flinders Lane Gallery

Flinders Lane Gallery

Exhibiting collectable artworks and featuring solo exhibitions every three weeks.

Outre Gallery

Outre Gallery

Alternative art gallery specialising in lowbrow, pop surrealism and underground art.

West End Art Space

West End Art Space

A contemporary art gallery with a focus on living artists that strive for excellence.

ARC ONE Gallery

ARC ONE Gallery

A commercial gallery in Flinders Lane showing contemporary Australian art.

Gallerysmith

Gallerysmith

A contemporary art gallery on the city fringe with a focus on solo exhibitions.

Kings Artist-Run Initiative

Kings Artist-Run Initiative

Space for contemporary art practice and gallery showcasing experimental projects.

Neon Parc

Neon Parc

Commercial art gallery exhibiting a diverse range of contemporary art throughout the year.

Mystik River Gallery

Mystik River Gallery

Specialising in the ancient art of Indian sculpting.

Anna Schwartz Gallery

Anna Schwartz Gallery

The gallery represents over 30 established and emerging artists on individual projects.

Bridget McDonnell Gallery

Bridget McDonnell Gallery

A gallery exhibiting early and modern Australian art.

More free museums

College of Surgeons Museum

College of Surgeons Museum

An exhibition of surgical objects and memorabilia.

Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre

Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre

A place of inspiration and vitality, that promotes the spirit and charism of Saint Mary MacKillop.

Medical History Museum

Medical History Museum

A free museum focusing on medicine's contribution to scientific discovery and community wellbeing.

The best free exhibitions

Not Natural
Until

Not Natural

Explore the growing friction between natural and artificial systems.

NGV Architecture Commission: (This is) Air
Until

NGV Architecture Commission: (This is) Air

The NGV 2023 Architecture Commission is a large-scale installation that makes the invisible visible.

Free things to do with kids in Melbourne

Free things to do with kids in Melbourne

Get the kids out and explore these free events and adventures for an awesome day of fun.

What's free in Melbourne this month

What's free in Melbourne this month

Everything to see, do and enjoy in Melbourne for free this month.

Melbourne Craft Fair
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Melbourne Craft Fair

Enjoy a contemporary craft fair at Queen Victoria Market.

April/May Exhibitions

April/May Exhibitions

See three new art exhibitions at Kings during the months of April and May.

JXSH MVIR: Forever I Live
Until

JXSH MVIR: Forever I Live

The first major solo retrospective exhibition of the late Josh Muir.

Stanislava Pinchuk: The Theatre of War
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Stanislava Pinchuk: The Theatre of War

Experience three captivating video performances inspired by Homer's Iliad.

Beyond Housing Exhibition

Beyond Housing Exhibition

An exhibition that considers the links between the practice and theory of architectural design.

Rachel Robb: Light Duty

Rachel Robb: Light Duty

An solo exhibition of paintings from Rachel Robb.

A Little Too Much

A Little Too Much

A solo show from sculptor Tara Denny.

Women Work for Victory in WWII
Until

Women Work for Victory in WWII

Explore the story of women on the home front during the Second World War.

Valerie Sparks: Sanctuary
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Valerie Sparks: Sanctuary

An exhibition of intricate photomontages of native blooms in a dark garden.

Mercedes Benz Club Victoria Display

Mercedes Benz Club Victoria Display

See a number of rarely seen cars, spanning many years and models.

Melinda Schawel: Weightless

Melinda Schawel: Weightless

Paper artist Melinda Schawel seeks a lightness of being through textural process.

Chris Orr: Motherboard

Chris Orr: Motherboard

An exhibition of new work by artist Chris Orr.

Gabrielle Hall-Lomax: Unbodied

Gabrielle Hall-Lomax: Unbodied

A solo exhibition from artist Gabrielle Hall-Lomax.

Auslan Tour: Art and Heritage Collection

Auslan Tour: Art and Heritage Collection

Join a free Auslan interpreted tour of the City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection.

Anzac Days Exhibition

Anzac Days Exhibition

A photographic exhibition of Anzac Day commemorations in Melbourne during the 1970s.

Friday Night Social: Yandell Walton

Friday Night Social: Yandell Walton

A visual feast and an innovative example of pushing technology in a new direction.​

View of Melbourne from across the Yarra River

Open House Melbourne Weekend

Explore more than 150 buildings, places and spaces, and be inspired about the future of our city.

Aluminium

Aluminium

Six artists and makers respond to the material aluminum in this exhibition.

Pet Shop
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Pet Shop

An exhibition exploring the paraphernalia dedicated to pet animals and wildlife.

Val Wens: Senja Di Panjalu (Dusk in Panjalu)
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Val Wens: Senja Di Panjalu (Dusk in Panjalu)

A photographic exhibition by the artist Val Wens.

What's free and what's open on the June long weekend

What's free and what's open on the June long weekend

Free events, winter markets, family-friendly activities and more.

Trenches to Runway: Military Influences on Popular Fashion
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Trenches to Runway: Military Influences on Popular Fashion

Explore the enduring influence of military design on popular fashion.

Angelina Mirabito: Elastic Heart

Angelina Mirabito: Elastic Heart

A series of abstract paintings inspired by keywords in the lyrics to Sia's song Elastic Heart.

MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission: Bethan Laura Wood
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MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission: Bethan Laura Wood

An installation that delves into the gendered history of education and transfer of knowledge.

Amos Gebhardt: In Memory of Stars
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Amos Gebhardt: In Memory of Stars

Gebhardt’s glowing images delineate the exquisite skeletons of native animals.

Top Arts
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Top Arts

Top Arts 2024 features the work of 45 VCE students at NGV.

Gotcha! Concrete Prints from the McEwans Celebrity Pavement
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Gotcha! Concrete Prints from the McEwans Celebrity Pavement

An exhibition presenting 40 celebrity hand- and footprints from the 1970s to 1990s.

Nireekshane
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Nireekshane

An exhibition showcasing hypnotic and subversive voices from South Asia.

Memo Akten: Distributed Consciousness
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Memo Akten: Distributed Consciousness

A digital work merging human and non-human consciousness – via the AI musings of octopus critters.

Julie Davidson: Portrait of Light
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Julie Davidson: Portrait of Light

An exquisite series of paintings catching the interplay of shadows, reflection, and light.

Behind the Lines: The Year in Political Cartoons
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Behind the Lines: The Year in Political Cartoons

Discover the best political cartoons of last year at the exhibition's only Melbourne venue.

Grainger Amplified
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Grainger Amplified

Be immersed in the world of Percy Grainger in this new exhibition.

Lucila Zentner: Surrender
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Lucila Zentner: Surrender

Enjoy Surrender, a solo exhibition by Lucila Zentner featuring colourful, generous, joyous works.

Emma Jackson: Island Rugs

Emma Jackson: Island Rugs

These hand-knotted rugs represent Australian islands with a unique volcanic story.

Last updated on Wed 13 Mar 2024

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