Planning to study in Sydney or already in the midst of your degree? Whether you’re an art lover, culture enthusiast or just looking for a unique way to spend the weekend, there’s never a dull moment in Sydney. Within this booming city are a wealth of galleries, museums and other art-related activities that are renowned worldwide.
We’ve taken a deep dive into the 3 best art experiences within Sydney, so you have no problem getting your dose of culture!
The Art Gallery of NSW
The Art Gallery of NSW is a crucial piece of Sydney’s rich art history. It was founded in 1872 as the New South Wales Academy of Art, holding its first public exhibition in 1874 and through 1882 and 1958 it was known as the National Gallery of New South Wales. In 2021, the Art Gallery celebrated its 150th anniversary, with 2022 marking the year they completed a significant expansion through the Sydney Modern Project.
It’s the most important public gallery in Sydney, one of Australia’s flagship art museums, the state’s leading visual arts institution and one of the largest galleries in Australia. And it now acts as one of the finest tourism destinations in Australia.
It’s a must-see for art and cultural experience in Sydney and is located along Sydney Harbour, making it a great and easy destination to check off your list.
It’s just a 15 minute walk from the city centre and admission is completely free, making it a perfect stop for students on a budget. Come along to enjoy the air conditioning on a hot day or use it as an escape from the hustle and bustle of city living.
You can dine at Crafted by Matt Moran, enjoy refreshments from the Gallery Cafe or take advantage of Kiosk featuring a rich takeaway menu curated by Indigenous Elder Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo, featuring native Australian ingredients if you want to taste the culture, too.
Come past on a Wednesday evening until 10PM for Art After Hours and enjoy free celebrity talks, music, performances, films and special events. And don’t miss one of the free daily guided tours – they’re held in multiple languages so, if you’re an international student, you don’t have to feel too alienated from this incredible cultural experience.
It’s a must-see in Sydney if you’re an art fanatic or even just new to the city! It features a mix of Indigenous, European and Asian art, with a number of exhibitions coming and going throughout the year.
The Museum of Contemporary Art
Located at Circular Quay, the Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in the former Maritime Services building, featuring gorgeous late Art Deco architecture that make for a gorgeous experience, even before considering the art and culture directly at hand.
It’s Australia’s leading museum dedicated to exhibiting, interpreting and collecting contemporary art from all across Australia and the world, featuring over 4000 works of Australian artists, with a strong emphasis on works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders artists.
In addition to its permanent collection featuring the rich culture of Australia and First Nations, it also hosts a continually changing range of modern art exhibitions that can be monitored here.
There are free guided tours of these exhibitions held each day by a MCA Volunteer, with scheduled tour times available at the information desk on Level 1. Note that these free tours are also accompanied by audio descriptions and Auslan tours.
The MCA also features an associated store which is one of Sydney’s unique shopping destinations that specialises in both Australian and international contemporary art and culture publications, and a Cafe with modern Australian cuisine and some breath-taking views of Sydney Harbour.
Thanks to its stunning architecture, brilliant services and unique exhibition, the MCA is a must-see destination for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in Sydney’s art world.
Better yet: it’s only a 20 minute walk from the Art Gallery of NSW, enabling an easy experience of both with the gorgeous sights of Sydney in-between.
firstdraft at Woolloomooloo
Future contemporary art emerges through a program that is critical, ambitious and experimental at Firstdraft at Woolloomooloo. This gallery was housed for 19 years on Chalmers Street in Surry Hills and is now installed in a heritage-listed flatiron building in one of Sydney’s oldest suburbs – the same suburb that is now emerging as the newest hub for galleries and artists.
The building itself is set up with a maze of rooms in the shape of acute triangles with rafters poking through gaps in the ceiling that creates a stunning setting for this gallery. It embodies a fresh new perspective for art, differing from the more traditional set up of MCA or the Art Gallery of NSW.
It presents a diverse program of exhibitions and events throughout the year that are free and open to the public. It’s supported by the City of Sydney and hosts extended residencies and mini-festival programs that invite artists to create outdoor works.
Firstdraft acts as the perfect venue for students and young, impressionable art-lovers to soak up this fresh and rich culture available. More so, its location at Woolloomooloo also puts it in close proximity to both the MCA and Art Gallery, making it an easy detour during your culture immersion in Sydney.
You’ll have no trouble hearing about MCA and the Art Gallery in a list of tourist attractions, but Firstdraft is the must-see up-and-coming hub that is still building authority online. We definitely recommend taking the time to stop and support this incredible establishment.
If you’re looking for ways to immerse yourself in Sydney’s rich culture and art, you’ll have no trouble finding experiences city-wide. But these 3 must-see attractions are definitely worth taking time out of your stay in Sydney to experience. They’re crucial to Sydney’s booming culture and are worth putting on your Sydney bucket-list. Better yet: you can access all of these attractions in one day easily!
Want to learn more about what’s on offer in Sydney or find the perfect location to stay to help you get around to all the arts experiences? Sydney Student Living can help make your stay as convenient and enjoyable as possible. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you immerse yourself in Sydney’s rich culture.