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 five millennia of Chinese art. Explore design through a new lens. And ponder the devastating effects of deforestation

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.

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 the current exhibit, Off the Grid. It harks back to 2000s Melbourne street art. Spot teeny tiny mosaic pieces from French artist Invader, rescued from the street to enjoy for years to come. 

A couple talking to a man with a boomerang in a museum.

Koorie Heritage Trust

Learn about the history, strength, and resilience of Aboriginal people and their communities at Koorie Heritage Trust. Based at Federation Square, it’s home to an ever-expanding collection of art, cultural artefacts and oral histories. Possum-skin cloaks, carved emu eggs and 19th century paintings are just the beginning.

A woman walking through a museum with a glowing toilet art piece.

Science Gallery Melbourne

Talking toilets, fruit fly karaoke, a giant population tracking egg and a body scanner that can launch your corpse into space. 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. They aren't currently running any exhibitions at the moment, but keep your eyes peeled for the next one that pops up.

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

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

Curated contemporary art space in the iconic Nicholas Building.

Flinders Lane Gallery

Exhibiting collectable artworks and featuring solo exhibitions every three weeks.

Outre Gallery

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

West End Art Space

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

ARC ONE Gallery

A commercial gallery in Flinders Lane showing contemporary Australian art.

Gallerysmith

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

Kings Artist-Run Initiative

Space for contemporary art practice and gallery showcasing experimental projects.

Neon Parc

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

Mystik River Gallery

Specialising in the ancient art of Indian sculpting.

Anna Schwartz Gallery

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

Tolarno Galleries

One of Australia’s most stimulating exhibitors of contemporary art and design.

Bridget McDonnell Gallery

A gallery exhibiting early and modern Australian art.

More free museums

College of Surgeons Museum

An exhibition of surgical objects and memorabilia.

Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre

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

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

An art gallery presenting challenging and innovative contemporary work.

Last updated on Mon 23 Jan 2023

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Hellenic Museum

Discover Greek art, history and culture, both ancient and contemporary.

The Johnston Collection

House-museum showing fine and decorative arts from the Georgian, Regency and Louis XV periods.