A guide to galleries and museums in Geelong

There’s a reason UNESCO recognised Geelong as Australia’s first and only City of Design in 2017. From big inventions (first vapour-compression refrigeration system and first rotary clothesline, thank you) to lasting designs like Australia’s first decimal coins, the folk of Geelong have long been a creative bunch.

You can bathe in some of that artistry and culture at the city’s array of galleries, museums and street art.

Geelong Gallery

Housed within an impressive Neoclassical-style building (est 1896), it’s one of the country’s oldest regional galleries with a nationally significant collection of 6,000 works. Prized are Frederick McCubbin’s 1890 painting A bush burial, and Eugene von Guerard’s 1856 work View of Geelong which offers an insightful glimpse of the town before modern development.

National Wool Museum

This place might have its origins in celebrating Geelong’s illustrious history as wool capital of the world, but alongside the displays on textiles and looms (the enormous 1910 Axminster Jacquard carpet loom with 1,323 bobbins is unmissable), a big part of the focus is now dedicated to changing art exhibitions. Hotly anticipated is the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year. It’s all set in a gorgeous heritage bluestone woolstore.

Boom Gallery

The collection at Boom Gallery got so big they had to extend into Big Boom, an adjoining warehouse. Pick up some contemporary art and design works – including jewellery and ceramics – by local and interstate artists. It’s all within a former woollen mill, located in the buzzing Pakington Street precinct.

Focal Point Darkroom and Gallery

It’s a photography lover’s heaven. Apart from having a sizeable gallery with changing exhibitions, a library and a shop with analogue photography supplies, Focal Point also has working spaces available for rent. Hire Australia’s largest and best-equipped public access darkroom, or their fully equipped photographic studio, by the hour and let the creative juices flow!

Street art

World-renowned street artist Rone grew up on the streets of Geelong, working his magic on abandoned buildings before sky-rocketing to fame around the world. Since then, Geelong’s street art has taken off and there are dozens of murals scattered throughout the city. Little Malop Street precinct is a hotspot where you’ll find the likes of singer Chrissy Amphlett along with Willem Baa Niip, known as ‘King Billy’, a respected, prominent male Wadawurrung figure in Geelong. Check out the options and go exploring.

MOPA

If you’ve got kids under the age of eight, let them run riot at Museum of Play and Art. Packed with bright colours, shapes and textures, this widely acclaimed concept allows kids and families to play together, maybe painting an old car, getting immersed in a digital art wall, or wandering through an interactive light tunnel.

While in Geelong, stop by the Geelong Art Space for independent local art and crafts or browse emerging and youth art at Platform Arts. Venture a little further to the outskirts of Geelong to the Fyansford Paper Mills Precinct, which is home to The Papermill Gallery inside a bluestone building from the 1870s.

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