Art, Culture and Installations - Oh My: A Guide to The Best Galleries and Museums in Geelong
Dust off your berets my friends, it’s time to get cultured in Geelong. From guerrilla street art through to famed oils on canvas; museums through to indie galleries - there’s a lot to discover in our fair city. The best part? It’s all within walking distance. You’ve heard of a pub crawl, well this...is a culture crawl. Take a walk down our city centre you’ll see exactly why Geelong has been recognised as Australia’s first (and only) City of Design by UNESCO.
Geelong Gallery is the beating heart of our city’s art scene. Home to over 6,000 significant works spread across a variety of different forms: paper, sculpture and decorative arts - the gallery also boasts the largest collection of images documenting the evolution of Geelong and its environment. Geelong Gallery is one of the oldest regional galleries in the country. When visiting make sure you take some time to check out the Eugene von Guerard collection. We hear it’s pretty spiffy.
Museum of Play and Art (MOPA)
Immerse yourself in the art of play. The Museum of Play and Art (MOPA) is perfect for those with rugrats under the age of 8. Fun and oh-so-educational, the play sessions are expertly designed to coax out every kid’s inner creative. Every session includes an open invite to get involved in a range of art, craft, dance, song, and yoga activations - the very same sessions that form the framework used by Australian Kindergartens.
Our streets themselves are a living art exhibition, filled with sculptures and vibrant murals that rival those found in nearby Melbourne. Sure, we don’t have a Banksy - yet (yes, this is an open invite to Banksy, you’re welcome here anytime!), but we sure have other amazing works of note that you should check out with a coffee in hand. Brougham Street hosts Cam Scale’s Unknown Mariner, a fabulous piece of work commemorating Geelong’s rich Maritime History; while the Moi-Yo Miller mural on the corner of James Street and Minns Lane pays tribute to a beautiful magician’s assistant. For a good insta-selfie, head down to Denny’s Place to check out some home-grown talent.
Metropolis Art Gallery
Local talent from Geelong and The Bellarine take centre stage at the Metropolis Art Gallery. The boutique gallery features a well-curated collection of contemporary paintings, Indigenous art, limited edition prints, sculpture, glass art and more. Situated in the arts precinct on Ryrie Street, this intimate space plays host to a number of fantastic exhibitions showcasing the very best artists from Geelong and beyond. Plus, if you’re lucky and you rock up on the right day, you may just find yourself at an opening night or artist talk (check the calendar online for details).
National Wool Museum
Did you know that Geelong was once considered the wool centre of the world? Learn all about it in an interactive way at the National Wool Museum on Moorabool Street (just a hop and skip from the waterfront). There are daily demonstrations by in-house carpet weavers, the chance to explore a recreated woolshed, plus guided tours for groups. The Wool Museum also showcases the Wildlife Photography of the Year collection.
Baywalk Bollard Trail
The bollards are perhaps Geelong’s most famous residents. Painted by artist Jan Mitchell in a bid to recycle old timber from the pier, 104 of her colourful creations can be found dotted along our famed waterfront. Some of the Gee-lebrities you’ll meet on the way: A Koori family, bathing beauties, Ian McDonald (who drew the plans for the local sea baths) and English explorer Matthew Flinders. Got a smartphone? (I mean, who doesn’t) Download the app Activate Geelong and lookout for a little QR code. Scan the code and the bollards will come to life before your eyes. Some of the participating bollards include the Volunteer Rifle Band next to the Carousel, the bathing babes at Eastern Beach, the Sea Captain, Steam Captain Sailor at the end of Cunningham Pier and Yacht Club Lady at the end of Bellerine Street.