After a wonderful experience at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia we thought we would extend our experience with a trip to one of the most beautiful art galleries in the world, the Art Gallery of NSW – www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au.
Established in 1871, the Gallery is situated a short walk from the CBD in The Domain next to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Entry is free too! We drove, but my suggestion is to catch a train or ferry to Circular Quay and walk past the Opera house and through the gardens to the front steps of the gallery.
If you are planning to take your kids to the Art Gallery of NSW, make sure to download on the Children’s Trails before your arrive which you can either print out or keep on your device for access during your trip. I find the trails help the kids to observe each art work and find depth in each gallery. We took our iPads although a clever person would pack a sketch pad and pencils (just like we did at the Museum for Contemporary Art).
The kids attentions span is not that long so we decided to restrict our first trip to the ground level. We headed through the vestibule where we turned right and headed into the 19th Century Australian art gallery. Oh the wonders we found! It was so exciting to introduce both Master R and Miss N to artworks I had learned about as a child.
Fredrick McCubbin’s On the wallaby track, Tom Roberts The Golden Fleece and Bailed up, Arthur Streeton’s Fire’s on, and a plethora of other works by artists such as John Glover and WC Pigueni were hanging in the gallery. I was mesmerised. I could literally stand with my nose an inch away from these great works! I even spotted a portrait of Henry Lawson!
We then made our way into the 19th and 20th century European artwork. Spectacular! We were wooed with offerings from Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Chaïm Soutine on loan from the Lewis Collection. To be in front of such masterpieces was breathtaking. The kids don’t really know any artists by name but found themselves drawn to pieces that moved them rather than my the celebrity aura that comes with some pieces. These were typically the sculptures. Auguste Rodin’s Second Maquette for the Burghers of Calais was their favourite.
With some hesitation (we could have browsed this area all day) we left and moved to the 20th and 21st century Australian art. Here we spied work by Boyd, Whitley, Dobell, Drysdale and Nolan to name but a mere few. I learned that my kids are still consolidating their experiences from our travels which require me to assist them to make connections. Bushrangers, Ned Kelly, the Australian bush became incredibly fascinating. I think a trip to Glenrowan needs to be added to our Bucket List!
By this time the kids became restless. We moved through to the Lowy, Gonski Gallery where we had the opportunity to spy two 17th-century portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in London. Painted around 1610 by the English court portraitist Robert Peake the Elder (c1551–1619), they depict the two eldest children of King James I of England and VI of Scotland: Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, aged 16; and Princess Elizabeth, aged 14. The interactive iPad and headphones in the room provided an opportunity for the kids to learn more about the subjects in the pictures.
Viewed out, we made our way out of the Gallery with the promise to visit again to see the other levels. With admission free, I can see this become a regular destination.