A combination of street culture and elegant galleries, the Melbourne art scene ranks as one of the top things to do in Australia. Join one of Melbourne’s street art tours to photograph graffiti and urban art down Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane, some of Melbourne’s most decorated streets. Reserve evenings for elegant outings to Melbourne’s best art galleries theaters, specifically the National Gallery of Victoria and The Arts Centre.
1. Melbourne Art Scene | Street Art
Inspired by urban art in New York, Melbourne street artists began painting the inner suburbs of Victoria’s capital in the 1970s. From there, the trend not only caught on, it rocketed Melbourne to street art stardom. The unique Melbourne art style led to a local interest in stencil art as well, and Melbourne subsequently is called the “Stencil Capital of the World.” Some of Melbourne’s most famous art lanes are within walking distance from one another and can be combined during a street art tour or photo walk. Enthusiasts will want to go off the beaten path to discover the full breadth of Melbourne’s street art scene.
Top Melbourne street art tours
- Hosier Lane: the centerpiece of Melbourne’s street art tours, Hosier Lane is covered from bottom to top in classic urban artwork. Stroll along a cobblestone street, and take note of the mind-blowing detail of this world-famous exhibition.
- AC/DC Lane: while the lane is named after one of Australia’s most famous rock bands, AC/DC Lane pays tribute to all rock musicians – both non-fiction and fiction. Photograph the wild display and then catch a show at the legendary Cherry Bar, located at the end of the lane.
- Rutledge Lane: in 2013, Rutledge Lane was painted blue to give new artists a fresh canvas. While the move resulted in some heated controversy, visitors now can see a fresh new display created almost overnight by local artists.
- Caledonian Lane: this street is not one of Melbourne’s largest street art displays, but it is one of the most historic. The street is where the annual St Jerome’s Laneway music festival began in 2005. The event was so successful that it expanded to Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Fremantle and Singapore.
- Fitzroy & Collingwood: popular for its Bohemian culture and hip music scene, the neighboring suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood feature winding alleyways of street art, as well as live music venues and art galleries, along Brunswick Street and Gertrude Street.
More places to see Melbourne street art
- Melbourne City Centre
- Northcote and Westgarth
- South Yarra
- St Kilda
Check In to Mantra on the Park Hotel, Step Out to Hosier Lane
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2. Melbourne Art Scene | Art Galleries
Melbourne is known as the cultural capital of Australia, and it’s easy to see why with the number of art galleries and exhibits throughout the city. Hunt for contemporary art in local boutiques, and view Australia’s most coveted treasures in Melbourne’s national and privately-run museums.
Best art galleries in Melbourne
- National Gallery of Victoria: Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited art museum features a collection of art housed in two buildings, the NGV International and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. As visually appealing on the outside as on the inside, the National Gallery of Victoria also showcases a water recycling system as part of its aesthetics.
- Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA): view thought-provoking, contemporary art pieces from some of the country’s most unique up-and-coming artists. The ACCA building itself is a work of art and a popular backdrop for photographers.
- Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP): established in 1986, the Centre for Contemporary Photography functions as a not-for-profit exhibition and resource center. A steady flow of exhibits promotes public engagement and better understanding of contemporary photography practices.
- Heide Museum of Modern Art: once a farmhouse, this historical landmark mostly promotes working contemporary artists who are native to Australia. However, the museum does consider works by artists who have influenced the nation through art. The original structure has been expanded into three compounds, and each can be found on a sprawling green space at the entrance to Heide Park.
- Gertrude Contemporary: located on High Street just north of the Bohemian community of Fitzroy, Gertrude Contemporary is a converted warehouse that now displays contemporary art. The gallery focuses on contemporary works by Australian artists and offers rotating exhibitions in three gallery spaces.
Check In to Brady Hotels Central Melbourne, Step Out to Heide Museum of Modern Art
3. Melbourne Art Scene | Theaters
Top theaters in Melbourne
- Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Southbank: overlooking the Yarra River, the Arts Centre Melbourne hosts more than 4,000 performances each year in three venues, including the State Theatre, Fairfax Studio and Playhouse.
- Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street: watch a Shakespeare production or international comedy show in this 19th-century concert hall located next to Melbourne Town Hall, one of the city’s stately historic landmarks.
- Comedy Theater, 240 Exhibition Street: don’t let the name fool you, this Melbourne icon hosts more than comedy shows. Look for the building designed like a Florentine palace to watch side-splitting comedy acts as well as Broadway musicals.
- Her Majesty’s Theatre, 219 Exhibition Street: established in 1886, Her Majesty’s Theatre hosts operas, ballets, plays and concerts. Honeymooners and couples enjoy private rooms with catering for a romantic night out at the theater.
- Princess Theatre, 163 Spring Street: supposedly haunted by a friendly ghost named Federici, the Princess Theatre stages world-class productions like Phantom of the Opera and Cats. Photographers and sightseers enjoy ogling at the theater’s ornate architecture. The Princess Theatre was built 1857 and remodeled in 1886.
Check In to Quality Hotel Batman’s Hill On Collins, Step Out to Her Majesty’s Theatre
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4. Melbourne Art Scene | Cinemas
From one-screen icons to modern marvels, Melbourne’s cinema selection comes straight out of Hollywood. Watch a new release in a contemporary cinema or cuddle up in a vintage seat to watch an indie film.
Popular movie theaters in Melbourne
- Cinema Nova, 380 Lygon Street, Carlton: with 16 cinemas and in-cinema dining, movie buffs can make a day of watching everything from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to documentaries. The theater also hosts Meet the Filmmaker workshops on weekends and regular late-night screenings of cult classics.
- Kino Cinemas, 45 Collins Street: take your pick of foreign films, documentaries and new releases at this modern cinema that offers a selection of international beer and wine for movie-goers to sip with a show!
- Lido Cinemas, 675 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn: pick a flick from eight screens featuring blockbuster movies and indie and foreign films. Lido Cinemas also contains a rooftop bar and hosts occasional film festivals.
- The Astor Theatre, 1 Chapel Street, St Kilda: the last single screen cinema in Melbourne, The Astor Theatre is a must-see for film enthusiasts. A throwback to classic Hollywood, the theater shows new and classic movies and is known for its double features, film festivals and remastered classics.
- Palace Westgarth Cinemas, 89 High Street, Northcote: enjoy a full movie experience in this landmark theater that even includes a grand stairwell. The Palace Westgarth Cinemas have daily showings of new releases and independent films. The venue also hosts film festivals throughout the year.