Located in the heart of the city, the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG) is frequently overlooked by visitors who tend to, and with good reason, spend their limited time visiting the national galleries and museums, mostly located in the Parliamentary Triangle area.

If you do have a little more time, the CMAG, the permanent collection of which focuses on the region’s social history and contemporary culture, is worthy a visit.


Of particular interest is the museum’s collection of Sir Sidney Nolan’s paintings, donated by Nolan to the people of Australia in 1974. Nolan (1917 –1992) was one of Australia’s leading 20th century artists famous for his modern style. He is best known for his series of paintings on the bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly with their stylised depiction of Kelly’s armour. In addition to a few paintings from the Kelly series the CMAG’s collection includes paintings on explorers Burke and Wills’ 1860–61 Trans-Australia (south to north) expedition, amongst others.

That said, a more extensive, and in my view better, collection of Nolan’s iconic Ned Kelly series can be seen at the National Gallery of Australia and is one of the highlights of that Gallery.

In addition to the permanent collection the museum hosts a variety of changing exhibitions. In fact, the space given over the temporary exhibits is greater than that taken up by the permanent exhibition so do have a look at the website to see what’s on when you visit. There may or may not be something of interest.


On my last visit they had an excellent exhibition of contemporary art from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong and an equally good one on the sex industry in the Territory, based in the suburb of Fyshwick (see poster above). Those seeking to explore the latter in more detail would do well to start with my upcoming review – Mown and Grown in Fyshwick.

The museum has a nice little cafe (nothing flash) and a small kids play area.

Opening hours

Open 7 days a week:
Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm
Weekends: 12 – 5pm Winter: 12 – 4pm

Closed some public holidays – check website for details

Café – Mon to Fri only, 8.00am–3.00pm. Note – not open on the weekend.

Entrance fee


Address: Civic Square, Canberra City
Directions: Cnr London Circuit and Civic Square, Canberra City
Website: http://www.cmag.com.au/

For my next CANBERRA – INNER NORTH review click HERE.
For other Canberra reviews click HERE.


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