Canberra has developed a reputation for delivering a sensational line-up of blockbuster exhibitions every summer and this season’s offering raises the bar even higher.
National Museum of Australia’s Encounters
Today, the National Museum of Australia opened its must-see exhibition Encounters: Revealing stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum. Drawn from the British Museum’s collection, rare and culturally significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects will be displayed in an exhibition being described by the National Museum of Australia as the most important to date.
Many of the objects have not been seen in Australia since they were first acquired during contact between European settlers and the Australian continent’s first peoples. Highlights of the exhibition include the Gweagal shield and two spears collected when Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay in 1770; a turtle-shell mask from the Torres Strait (pre-1855); and beautiful 19th-century glass spearheads from the Kimberley.
The exhibition is structured into modules, each representing a community, with the object from the British Museum surrounded by contemporary objects from that community. Films, images and quotes provide cultural context to some of Australia’s most significant stories.
Encounters runs until 28 March 2016. The exhibition is free and tickets are available at the door or can be booked online at www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/encounters
National Gallery of Australia’s Tom Roberts
Marvel at more than 130 works of the much-loved Australian artist Tom Roberts from his early days studying at London’s Royal Academy in 1883 until 1931 at the National Gallery of Australia.
The summer exhibition Tom Roberts opens 4 December 2015 and will bring together major works from public and private collections, featuring more than 130 works of art. The paintings by Tom Roberts are some of the most recognisable and loved by Australians. He was among the first to promote outdoor landscape painting and his Impressionist landscapes set the tone for much that was to follow.
Roberts’ seminal painting, which he called the Big Picture will be shown with his other major works. The enormous painting, 3 by 5 metres, captures recognisable portraits of 265 dignitaries at the Federation of Australia ceremony in May of 1901. This is the first time the painting has moved since it was hung in Parliament House in 1988.
The spectacular new Tom Roberts exhibition comes as the Gallery completes a rehang of the nation’s art collection, with Australian art taking pride of place in a new location, which will transform the experience for visitors.
Tom Roberts opens 4 December 2015 and runs until 28 March 2016. Tickets are now on sale at www.nga.gov.au/Roberts
National Library of Australia’s Celestial Empire
A short walk from the Gallery will take you to the National Library of Australia, where 300 years of Chinese culture and tradition will be explored this summer. Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644–1911 highlights exquisite and precious objects from the National Library of China in a joint exhibition telling the story of China’s last imperial dynasty.
The exhibition covers the Qing dynasty and includes drawings and plans for Beijing’s iconic palaces from the Yangshi Lei Archives, never before seen in Australia. Beautiful maps, books and prints come alive in ornate detail. And discover the National Library of Australia’s acclaimed Chinese Collection, including rare items from the London Missionary Society that offer a unique view of early western impressions of China.
Running alongside the exhibition is a vibrant summer program, ranging from puppet troupes and Chinese food culture weekends to film screenings, China-themed family open days, English and Chinese-language tours and more.
Celestial Empire opens 2 January 2016 and runs until 22 May 2016. The exhibition is free and tickets are available at the door or can be booked online at www.nla.gov.au/exhibitions/celestial-empire
For more information on other things to see and do in Canberra during summer, visitwww.visitcanberra.com.au