Art Gallery Exhibitions

Review: Visual Arts

An overview of accessing Australia’s major visual art gallery exhibition programs though their websites. Date: Christmas 2013.

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This is an overview of what visual arts major art galleries are telling us is available around the country this Christmas. Our major art galleries endeavour to have their local audiences come through the doors. The challenge is to convince someone interested in all manner of visual arts, including photography, to spend some of our discretionary leisure time and dollars to travel (pay airfares and accommodation) to see the collections and special exhibitions.

Please note, this is our selection of galleries, it does not cover every venue in Australia.

Also note my bias towards photography. We like dedicated exhibition spaces for when there is a collection and consider there should be easy web links to that collection.

The ratings are my reaction to the levels of helpful information through the websites that assists the general public to find all the current large, small, temporary or collections exhibitions – that is, what’s to see today if I make the effort to visit.

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Brisbane: Queensland Art Gallery/ Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. (same place, two venues near each other).

The website connection to the range of exhibitions is very clear. A simple scroll down reveals what special exhibitions are on and what you will expect to see around most of the exhibition spaces. There is a good level of information on the collection exhibitions and other side exhibitions. It is an easy format to follow to see what is on in the many galleries. This gallery has a good photographic collection but shows very little of it. It does not have a dedicated photography exhibition space. Loses a point for the lack of photography.

Culture Marketing Rating: 8/10

I would have loved to have seen the California Design but it closes in February and I will not get there till maybe March at the earliest. Definitely interested in Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth.

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Perth: Western Australia Art Gallery.

The website exhibition link is simple. Maybe just a little too simple in design to be attracting visitors. The collection links provides ample information on their collections on exhibition. The link to the Kerry Stokes special exhibition was a bit underwhelming. Surely there is an exciting exhibition there.

Culture Marketing Rating: 7/10

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Hobart: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

The website exhibition link works well. Just scroll down and there is all the information they offer. Which also means there’s no links for more information; not so good.

Culture Marketing Rating: 7/10

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Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia

The website exhibition links to a range of large and small exhibitions and is easy to follow. It is just that all the permanent collections are missing in action. They have heaps that they are not telling you about. Their permanent exhibitions are always worth a visit.

Culture Marketing Rating: 6/10

special mention: A comment on the marketing for the Adelaide Biennial – which is now annual. The online web information is not good for an event to attract national and international audiences. We have a full banner of someone who I think is the director of the annual biennial but no artworks. And as for his curatorial statement, I thought we got over that sort of deep and meaningful angst statements years ago. Probably some good art, but boring statement. So, no, I will not be going to Adelaide to see an exhibition that :

In its 13th iteration the Biennial will tap into the hearts and minds of contemporary Australian society, to explore the political, the psychological and the personal. I am after an inherently emotional and immersive exhibition, one that is unafraid to ask difficult questions and expose the underbelly of society.

Culture Marketing Rating: 2/10 (2 points for the list of interesting artists)

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Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria

The website exhibition links to a range a large and small special exhibitions. There is of course the link to their big splash for the season, Melbourne Now (special mention three below). The exhibition linkages are reasonable and provide ample information on the special exhibitions. Some of the specials are time based while others are presumably special selections from the permanent collections.

Special Mention One: There is a link to the ‘NGV Collection’ that provides a meager introduction to their permanent collections. This public gallery has absolutely magnificent collection exhibitions that are more than equivalent to any special blockbuster. They have decided not to let the world know this. Actually I should not tell you this either, as each time I am in Melbourne I try to find time to go into several of the permanent exhibition spaces and sit (if there is a seat!)and take in great artworks. And when I do this, there are always very few people in these exhibitions. So please do not tell anyone about these hidden treasurers and that they are free to visit!

Special Mention Two: The NGV has a great collection of photography and used to have a small exhibition space upstairs on St Kilda Road. It disappeared recently. So photography lovers be aware. This is no longer a place to visit often for photography and there is no sign of any on the website.

Culture Marketing Rating: 6/10

Special Mention Three: Melbourne Now. Remember this is a comment on the marketing. I have had the benefit of reading many reviews and talking to people about this initiative and have written about this in a previous post. However I have to say that the online marketing is a case study of how to confuse using too much moving graphics. The designer does not know how to design for web access by the general public.

Luckily the Melbourne audiences probably do not have to rely on the web site given the high level of word of mouth and that this gallery has a built-in audience who will turn up for anything. Yes, I suspect if the Director announced the grand opening of an envelope, the crowds would show up. But for the rest of us who have to rely on the website, best of luck working out what this wonderful initiative is all about. Yes there’s lots of information to be researched, but for simple marketing it does not quite deliver. I may get there but this special website will not have helped much.

Culture Marketing Rating: 5/10

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Sydney: The Art Gallery of New South Wales

The link to the stand alone exhibitions page is not easy to find. The first point of entry off the front page is through a link called ‘what’s on‘.

The ‘what’s on‘ page is a long list including the collections exhibitions (yah!! this is good – they believe in their own collections), the current exhibitions, the coming  exhibitions and lots of events. There are lots of links to useful information from this one page. The actual exhibitions page has very easy to access information and linkages. The special exhibitions, whether touring or from their own collections, are listed here. This is  all a good example of providing easy access for the general public.

However, as indicated elsewhere, the NSW gallery does has a fabulous set of permanent exhibitions and this current exhibitions page provides no obvious link to it. The main link is up on the top of the page in the menu under ‘collection’ as well as through the former mentioned ‘what’s on‘. Once in here there are multiple entry points with loads of images and information about all the collections. Maybe a small point, but I suggest a link for their collections should be a permanent feature towards the bottom of their listings on the current exhibitions page.

Photography? The Art Gallery of NSW has a dedicated photography exhibition space. I have mentioned this in a recent post. This is now one of just two major state/national galleries with dedicated photography exhibition spaces. So if you are interested in photography, then go visit the Art Gallery NSW anytime you are in Sydney!

My ratings would be higher with that one adjustment.

Culture Marketing Rating: 9/10

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Canberra: The Australian National Gallery

The gallery’s main page links easily to the current exhibitions. Unfortunately if you were planning a visit, and did not look much further you will have concluded that there is not much on. Wrong.

Besides the advertised three exhibitions, there’s a host of changing and permanent exhibitions to be seen including the fabulous new wing totally devoted to historic and contemporary Indigenous Visual Arts. It is a must see and international visitors should spend about an hour in these galleries.

Then add in Australian contemporary and historic  international and Australian arts, decorative arts, and the great sculpture gallery which I have visited twice lately, and have been the only person there, plus the guard. Then there is Asian arts, the arts of India, and art in the gardens outside. There’s the bonus of he dedicated photography gallery.

So the question is, why not link all this through from an obvious permanent dedicated link or two down the bottom of the listings on the current exhibitions page?

My ratings would definitely be higher if some simple adjustments were made as suggested. Free entry for now and special price for special exhibitions such as Inca Gold.

Culture Marketing Rating: 7/10

From mid 2014, to comply with taxation law, there is to be a charge for parking. As this is not an easy place to get to without a car, this means that a visit to the NGA will no longer be free entry for the majority of visitors, that is for the majority of the people of Australia. A private contractor will soon be charging for the parking so that you can see works already paid for and owned by the public. Guess I will be making less visits and taking fewer visitors there after mid 2014. Grumph!

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and now for some of the others…

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Sydney: The Museum of Contemporary Art

The top of the gallery’s main page links to the what’s on. From there it is fairly simple to see the information on the main exhibitions spaces. Generally free entry – with a fee for special shows such as Yoko Ono.

Culture Marketing Rating: 8/10

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Sydney: The Australian Centre for Contemporary Photography

The main page links to everything you need to know. Free entry.

Culture Marketing Rating: 8/10

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Sydney: The White Rabbit Gallery

Up the top of the main page there’s a link to what’s new /now showing.  There’s enough text to let you know what is on but no images. Free entry – allowed to take photographs.

Culture Marketing Rating: 6/10

(it remains a favourite place to visit in Sydney)

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Brisbane: The Queensland Centre for Photography

The main page links to everything you need to know, including exhibitions, easy! Free entry.

Culture Marketing Rating: 8/10

Now the bad news. The Queensland Government has withdrawn funding from this highly successful and high-profile photography institute. I suspect foul play and someone of bias somewhere in the funding system.

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Melbourne: The Centre for Contemporary Photography

The main page links to current exhibitions. Just that they have provided several links to several galleries and the same exhibition is on across all four separately linked galleries. Bit annoying. Free entry.

Culture Marketing Rating: 6/10

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Melbourne: The Monash Gallery of Art: the home to Australian Photography

The Monash Gallery of Art offers very easy to access their website when looking for information on exhibitions. They show photography and list themselves as the Home of Australian Photography. They also make a good video – see this previous post.

Culture Marketing Rating: 9/10

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Melbourne: The Heidi Museum of Modern Art

The main page has image links to the current exhibitions. Simple and accessible navigation with adequate information.

Culture Marketing Rating: 7/10

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Canberra: The Canberra Museum and Gallery

The main page for the main museum and gallery (there are other local museums through the website) has simple image links to ample information about the current exhibitions and collections. Simple and effective.

Culture Marketing Rating: 8/10

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