Beat’s guide to Melbourne’s best free museums

Beat’s guide to Melbourne’s best free museums

Words by Tobias Handke

Because everyone loves free stuff.

Melbourne is often cited as the cultural centre of Australia, which is no surprise considering the number of museums, galleries and historic buildings dotted around the city. Some of the world’s biggest exhibitions are held in our wonderful city, with an incredible collection of work from Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and a mind-boggling VR experience just two exhibitions currently on show that are well worth your hard-earned dollars.

But if you find yourself strapped for cash, don’t fear, there are plenty of free exhibitions held across an assortment of museums around the city, too. To help you find them, we’ve picked six of the best free Melbourne museums for you to visit this weekend.

National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)

Home to the best international exhibitions and a massive collection of local works, the National Gallery of Victoria is one of Melbourne’s most popular free art museums. With a collection featuring over 70,000 different artworks and special exhibitions from Aussie artists, including body architect and sci-fi artist Lucy Mcrae and abstract art innovator Roger Kemp, there’s something to tickle every art-lover’s fancy. Join one of the daily tours to learn more about the art on display and be sure to visit the Indigenous Art collection.

Find NGV at 180 St Kilda Rd, CBD.

State Library Victoria

More than just a study spot for students, the State Library is home to an impressive selection of artworks, sculptures and cultural exhibits. Currently hosting the Ashes Urn along with Ned Kelly’s armour, the best way to see everything held in the spacious museum is via a guided tour. These free walks through the gallery take you to all the highlights, with the Dome to Catacomb tour taking you behind the scenes as you roam from top to bottom of the historic building.

Find State Library Victoria at 328 Swanston St, CBD.

The Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts (ACCA)

Stating their mission as to “Do Art Differently,” the Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts certainly ticks that box with its revolving selection of confronting, inspirational and culturally relevant works. Current exhibition Feedback Loops consists of “six immersive installations that explore the material and digital worlds of our past, present and speculative futures.” Free public tours commence every Sunday at 3pm during exhibition periods while guests are encouraged to chat to gallery attendants about what they are seeing for a better understanding of all things art-related.

Find ACCA at 111 Sturt St, Southbank.

The Australian Music Vault

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Australia’s music scene then this is the place for you. Charting the rise of Aussie music through the decades, this awesome museum takes you on a visual and aural trip through our nation’s musical history, highlighting major events and cornerstone moments. Along with detailed descriptions about the local scene, there are a number of one-off items on show, including shoes worn by Peter Allen and the helmet Jim Keays sported on The Boy From The Stars cover.

Find Australian Music Vault at 100 St Kilda Rd, CBD.

Old Treasury Building

Built in the 19th century, the Old Treasury Building contains the original vaults where gold bullion was stashed during the gold rush. The museum offers a look at the history of Melbourne and Victoria and is currently displaying Wayward Women?, an exhibition highlighting ten women who lived in Victoria between 1894 – 1904 and the harrowing stories of how they survived during this rough period in Australian history.

Find Old Treasury Building at 20 Spring St, CBD.

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

Despite currently undergoing a multi-million dollar redevelopment, you can’t have a list of best free museums without including the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. While construction continues, the museum is split between two CBD locations: the Treasury Theatre and The Capitol. Home to Mad Max’s Enforcer and a massive selection of film memorabilia, ACMI never fails to entertain and will be high on the list of must-visit attractions once it reopens later this year.

Find ACMI at Federation Square, Flinders St, CBD.

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