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12 Must-See Exhibitions in 2012

Home > Melbourne > Art | Exhibitions | Family | Free | Lists
Published February 1st 2012
Ancestral Power and the Aesthetic

Indigenous art collected in Melbourne eighty years ago is showcased in the exhibition Ancestral Power and the Aesthetic. The collection of paintings, including some mixed media ones, is not only a cultural experience, but a visually pleasing one.

Ancestral Power and the Aesthetic is showing at the Melbourne Museum until the 12th of February 2012.

Summer Holiday Snaps
Yesteryear's dresses are very different from today's, but they still hitched them up in the same way at the beach. Image source: Museum Victoria.


Get nostalgic at the Melbourne Museum, with their display of summer photographs from 1900 to 1938. The black-and-white shots, taken in Victoria, come from a family photo album. Depicting typical holiday scenes from beach getaways, the 40 photographs on display in the foyer show just how little summertime recreation has changed over the years.

The exhibition is on at the Melbourne Museum until the 29th of February, the last day of summer.

Human Kind

A photographic exhibition depicting a 1980 earthquake in Italy in which nearly three thousand people perished, Human Kind is dedicated to victims of recent natural disasters. The sensational images were taken by Italian photographer Pasquale Stanzione.

The exhibition can be viewed for free at the No Vacancy QV Gallery between the 11th and 25th of March.

Sweets: Tastes and Traditions from Many Cultures

There may be huge differences from culture to culture, but there's one thing we can all agree on: dessert. Sweets showcases the significance of sweet foods in places as varied as Japan, Turkey and Italy. Unfortunately the exhibition is for looking only, not eating.

This Immigration Museum exhibition runs from the 18th of March to the seventh of April, and is part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Visual Illusions

Don't miss the interactive Visual Illusions exhibition at Scienceworks.


Prepare to be seriously confused at Visual Illusions, which uses you to demonstrate how the brain can be tricked into interpreting a visual incorrectly. Children and adults alike will be amazed by the perception tricks that can be played on your mind.

Visual Illusions is showing at Scienceworks until the 30th of June.

Yarra: Morgues, Murder and Mayhem

Yarra: Morgues, Murders and Mayhem is showing at the Victoria Police Museum until the end of August.


Learn about the Yarra River's history of sinister secrets at the Victoria Police Museum. You'll encounter dumped bodies and chemicals disposed of in the water in this exhibition- you'll never look at Melbourne's famous river the same again. Most intriguing is the story of why the police kept a murdered woman's head in a jar in the late nineteenth century.

Yarra is a free exhibition showing until the 31st of August.

Linda Jackson: Bush Couture

Once of Jackson's pieces from the 1970s.


Bush Couture is no ordinary fashion exhibition. Rather than conform to runway trends, designer Linda Jackson went on a creative tangent all of her own, incorporating varied cultural influences into her decidedly Australian designs. She uses different media and techniques on her characteristically eclectic pieces, which often take inspiration from Australiana.

The free exhibition is showing at the Ian Potter Centre until the ninth of September.

The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia, an area of the Middle East once encompassing the most advanced empires of ancient civilisation, is brought to life again in the exhibition The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia. Nearly two hundred exquisite artefacts, including gold jewellery not too different from today's, have been borrowed from the British Museum and brought to Melbourne.

Displayed at the Melbourne Museum, the exhibition is showing from the fourth of May to the seventh of October.

Napoleon: Revolution to Empire

French history is brought to life through art and relics of everyday life at the NGV.


Learn about France's history and cultural climate in the era of Napoleon's rule through art at NGV's Napoleon exhibition. Beginning at the tail end of the French Revolution, the exhibition includes hundreds of items: paintings, trinkets, textiles, furniture and more.

Napoleon is being displayed at the NGV from the second of June to the seventh of October.

Game Masters

An interactive exhibition of video games old and new, Game Masters is a must-see for any gaming enthusiast. If you attended ACMI's Game On exhibition in 2008, don't be fooled into thinking Game Masters is more of the same. Game Masters follows on where Game On left off, with over 125 playable games, and a focus on game developers themselves.

Game Masters is showing at ACMI from the 28th of June until the 28th of October.

Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention

Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention is one for the kids, using the popular movie characters to introduce them to household inventions. Kids will gain an appreciation for simple inventions that work, as well as seeing silly contraptions such as a chocolate teapot, in the internationally touring exhibition. Original film sets from some of their stop-motion clay animation films are also on display.

The temporary interactive display shows from the 19th of May to the 11th of November at Scienceworks.

Time Catcher

The influences of the past on art of the present day and throughout history are explored in Time Catcher. But the exhibition isn't all static pieces of antique art, there are multimedia and interactive elements to engage the imagination.

Time Catcher has been put together with children and families in mind, and is hosted at the Ian Potter Centre until the 11th of November. Entry is free.
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Your Comment
What a variety of galleries, collections and displays you've managed to track down... I'm definitely adding these exhibitions to this year's to-do list. I'm particularly looking forward to Human Kind, Sweets: Tastes and Traditions from Many Cultures, and Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention. How fun!
by Lisa Williams (score: 1|13) 2853 days ago
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