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Tarrawarra Museum of Art

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by Anita Coia (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Melbourne, curious about everything, usually making a living via corporate communications. Visit my LinkedIn profile at
Published May 13th 2012
Tucked into the rolling green hills of the Yarra Valley, between Yarra Glen and Healesville, lives a real gem: the Tarrawarra Museum of Art.

Co-located with the Tarrawarra Estate Winery on the Healesville-Yarra Glen Road in the Yarra Valley, you could not ask for a more beautiful and appropriate backdrop for an impressive collection of contemporary Australian art.
Sweeping views surround the Tarrawarra Museum of Art

The Museum was born from Marc and Eva Besen's passion for Australian art, and their permanent collection includes works by notables such as John Olsen, Fred Williams, Brett Whiteley, John Brack, and Russell Drysdale.

In addition, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions, the best known is the Archibald Prize Touring Exhibition, which this year will run from 9 June to 8 July 2012. It is wise to pre-book for the Archibald exhibition as the queues for entry tend to be long, particularly in the last days. The Museum, which has limited parking (adequate under normal circumstances, but not for this event) also organises a shuttle bus from the Healesville RACV Country Club.

Unfortunately, though entry to the museum is free for children, I can't describe it as an environment friendly to small children. When I visited with my exuberant and admittedly tired three-year old daughter, I was dismayed to find we were stalked around the venue by the security guard almost the whole time.

This was despite the fact that I was supervising her all the time, and even removed her for a short time when she was particularly uncooperative. It was a shame, as she was genuinely excited by some of the artwork, especially Sue Saxon and Jane Becker's 'All that is solid melts into air'.

This lovely installation features fragile works created from egg shells, and the biggest piece was a waterfall of light strings using 936 blown egg shells as light shades, creating a beautiful curtain of subtle earthy colour shadings. My daughter was fascinated by it and was excited to show it to one of our companions, however, she did not touch it, which is more than can be said for some adult visitors. It is a bit disappointing that some art venues find it difficult to tolerate youngsters, who get so much out of being exposed to art. As Picasso said, 'Every child is an artist'.

Another notable exhibition, Chiharu Shiota's installation 'State of Being', was an exercise in immersion (and another that small hands should be kept away from). The roof and walls of a corridor have been woven like the lair of a giant nightmare arachnid, with a double bass suspended in the middle of the black yarn. Described by the artist as 'a means of giving physical presence to her own emotional states', it certainly stimulates a range of emotions in anyone walking through. The web seems to close in as you walk through it, and the dense layers suggest hidden depths that lead…where?

Visit the Tarrawarra Museum of Art for a stimulating sensory experience that is great value for money in a gorgeous location. Just don't take the littlies.

5 for adults
Free for children, concession and pension card holders (not seniors card holders)
NOTE: Special ticket prices apply for the Archibald Prize Touring Exhibition:
Adult $10
Concession $8 (includes pension card holders, students, children 5yo – 16yo, veterans affairs card holders)
$28.00 family (2 adults up to 3 children)
Evening sessions: $40, bookings required
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Why? Serious art in the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley
When: Tuesday to Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Open public holidays (ex. Christmas Day)
Open throughout Easter 2012 including Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.
Where: 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville
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