I'm a student in Melbourne, who knows the importance of fun on a budget.
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Published September 25th 2014
Entertaining and educational, who says it isn't possible?
The Bendigo Art Gallery is impressive, both in its size, and in the quality of its collections. It currently has two temporary exhibitions open: The Body Beautiful In Ancient Greece and Undressed: 350 Years Of Underwear In Fashion. These are both on loan from international museums and change regularly. If you are planning on checking out one of the travelling exhibitions you need to head to the box office first. It is in a separate building to the museum- one to the left when you are standing on the road.
The gallery also hosts expert speakers relevant to the current exhibitions. These talks are usually free, and always fascinating. A full list of upcoming events can be found in the gallery itself, or online here. Some of the events are aimed at children of varying ages or families, especially over the school holidays.
If you've never been to the gallery here before, there is a tour daily at 2pm. This will allow you to hear more detail about some of the highlight pieces of the collection. You can wander at your own pace afterwards, but there's no harm in gathering some expert insight first!
Chairs out and ready for an evening discussion at the Bendigo Art Gallery. Photography by Bill Henson in the background.
The regular collection ranges from 18th Century Australian art, to 19th Century European art. There are also a number of extraordinary contemporary pieces. In 2012 the Bendigo Art Gallery acquired a number of photographs by Bill Henson, as well as a fabulous sculptural piece by Patricia Piccinini called 'The Young Family'.
Every painting is carefully labelled with title, date and artist. Many include extra information that give more context to the pieces. The sculptural pieces are less well signed, but they are so magnificent in their own right that the only reason I minded was that I wanted to look them up to learn more about them!
Entry to the regular collection at Bendigo is free, although there is a donation box at the entry. If you don't want to donate, that shouldn't stop you from going, but if you get an hours entertainment out of it, why not put in $5. It helps keep the gallery's brilliant offerings going, and helps maintain one of the oldest regional galleries in Australia.
A very small section of the Bendigo Art Gallery's permanent collection.
The small gallery shop has an interesting variety, most of which relates to the current exhibitions. There are books filled with photographs and collection information, as well as post cards, posters and fun toys for the kids. The gallery toilets are clean and neat, and have beautiful Aesop hand soap.
There's a small café, and a beautiful courtyard in which to sit and eat as well. You are welcome to bring your own food (although not into the gallery of course). All up you could easily spend a day in and around the Bendigo Art Gallery without being bored. I highly recommend a trip their, and will be heading up from Melbourne again soon.