As a short break in our hectic workday, we had the opportunity to take a tour of the Ballarat Art Gallery on Friday afternoon. The Art Gallery is yet another example of the rich culture and history in this city and is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year.
Founded in 1884, the Art Gallery of Ballarat is the oldest regional art gallery in Australia and was the first to be built outside a capital city in the overseas dominions of the British Empire. The Gallery is the oldest and largest regional gallery in the country, housed in a heritage-listed building which is one of the oldest purpose-built galleries in the country.
To start with, the building in which the Art Gallery is housed is a beautifully restored premise built after the original goldrush.
The art gallery contains the largest regional collection of Australian art (and the 6th largest collection in the world!) Nitin and I had the benefit of the expertise of Fiona, one of the excellent volunteer guides who support the gallery. She even let us get up close and personal with some of the exhibits.
The Australian collection provided a historical walk through of the early Australian art which started to capture the unique nature of the bush and our eucalyptus “gum” trees. There is also a fantastic collection of native aboriginal artworks.
We also got to peek behind the scenes and look at the heating and operations of the gallery.
There is a fantastic new exhibit : EIKON which contains examples of orthodox Christian icons which is well worth the visit. My personal favourites were the art depicting Ballarat and the gold rush and its aftermath.
It was a great – even if rushed – afternoon. If you are in or near Ballarat – take the time to visit the Gallery and take advantage of the guided tours from the passionate volunteers … or even the prince who greets you by the stairs.