National Gallery of Victoria

Posted: August 14th, 2013

The National Gallery of Victoria



Table of Contents

Topic                                                                                                                                       Page

1.0 Introduction                                                                                                                      3


1.1 Operational Description                                                                                                      3

1.2 Opening Hours and Facilities                                                                                               3

Classification of Attraction                                                                                                        3

1.3 Significance                                                                                                                        4

1.4 Model                                                                                                                                4

1.5 Research Questions                                                                                                            4

1.6 Hypothesis                                                                                                             4


2.1 Artwork in the National Gallery of Victoria                                                                   4

2.2 Cultural Tourism in Australia                                                                                          5

2.3 Motivations for Tourists in Cultural Tourism                                                                6

2.4 Art Promotion in NGV                                                                                                     6

3.0 Conclusion                                                                                                                        6


The National Gallery of Victoria



            This paper aims to analyze the National Gallery of Victoria and its contribution to the growth of cultural tourism in Australia. The research will examine the current growth in cultural tourism, the motivations of cultural tourists and the efforts of the National Gallery to not only promote indigenous but also contemporary art.

Operational Description

The National Gallery of Victoria has two branches. The first branch is NGV International that is located in Southbank along St Kilda road. The second branch is the Ian Potter centre at the federation square. The two galleries are just several miles apart within Melbourne. The NGV primarily depends on donated funds from wealthy citizens as well as donated pieces of art. The management of the National Gallery of Victoria consists of an executive management team and a council of trustees (“People & Projects” 2013). The executive management is made up of three directors. Tony Ellwood is the director assisted by Andrew Clark. The third person in the executive management is the Assistant director Dr. Isobel Crombie. The council of Trustees is made up of eight people who assist in the running of the NGV. It also relies on several corporate sponsors and partners including Mercedes Benz, Macquarie, Ernst & Young, Qantas, Sofitel luxury hotels among others.

Opening Hours and Facilities

NGV international is open to the public every day except Tuesday from 10am to 5pm. It is also open on all public holidays except Christmas and Good Friday. On ANZAC day, it opens at 1pm. Other facilities in the museum also have opening and closing hours. The NGV shop and the gallery kitchen are open from 10am to 5pm except on Tuesdays. No facility within the museum is open on Tuesday. The Tearoom and the members lounge each open from 10am to 4:30pm. The Persimmon opens from 11am to 4pm. The Ian Potter Centre is closed on all Mondays and no facilities within operate during that day. The opening hours fro the Ian Potter Centre are 10am to 5pm and like the NGV international is closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday and opens at 1pm on ANZAC Day. The NGV shops in the centre however is the only facility that opens daily from 10am to 5pm. The crossbar café and the members lounge are closed on Monday. The Persimmon is a dining area where visitors can order and take lunch. Visitors take tea, cakes and other light food in the tearoom. The Gallery kitchen at NGV provides visitors with the opportunity to grab a casual lunch. The crossbar café at the Ian Potter offers visitors with an area to take a break and enjoy light snacks.

Classification of Attraction

The National Gallery of Victoria is classified as an art and culture museum (NGV). The museum can be categorized among the heritage and to a minimal extent the creative tourism categories. The NGV can be related to the aboriginal-European contact eras since it holds far much more art pieces about the history and culture of the aborigines than any other museum. The Ian Potter centre especially, holds a lot of artwork on indigenous Australian culture hence its relevance to this period. The NGV is both a visitor attraction and a tourist attraction. Using Gunn’s model the nucleus of the NGV is the International museum building. The stained glass ceiling and the water wall entrance give the visitor a cultural and unique feeling. The inviolate belt is the surrounding grounds, the Grimwade gardens that give the exterior of the museum a unique ancient look. The zone of closure is the Melbourne arts precinct that offers a wide array of art related facilities. St Kilda Road also assists in accessibility. The Federation square parking lot offers ample parking space for visitors. The visitor experience is great. NGV staff politely guide and direct visitors and their issues are attended to promptly. NGV staffs are trained to communicate with visitors using different languages. Tours can be organized in different languages with provision for audio-described tours. Visitors can communicate with the administration through the phone or via email in case of any issue.


            During recent times, there has been a growing interest in native Australian and aboriginal art. Tourists have been streaming into Australia not only to sample its fascinating scenery but also to learn about the diverse and rich culture and tradition of the Australian people. The National Gallery of Victoria has been one of the major destinations for tourists wanting to learn more about Australian culture. Finding out about the gallery’s contribution to the growth and appreciation of art will create awareness on the part of both stakeholders and the authorities on the importance of sustaining and maintaining museums and other heritage attractions.


            The research took a quantitative direction where observations were made and primary data on the National Gallery of Victoria collected. The observation involved visiting the Gallery and recording important information on the pieces in store, the activities taking place and the visitors. In addition, secondary data from magazine and journal articles, books and other recorded information on the gallery were also relied on for more information. The information gathered was compiled for the research.

Research Questions

            This research aims to answer two main questions;

1. How does the Nation Gallery of Victoria enhance the study of historical Australian art?

2. How does the museum contribute to the appreciation of both indigenous and international artwork?


             In view of the above research aims and questions, the aims of this research were to prove the two research purposes outlined. The two hypotheses are outlined as follows:

Null Hypotheses;

  • The National Gallery of Victoria inhibits the study of aboriginal art
  • The museum does not contribute to the appreciation of artwork

Alternative Hypotheses;

  • The Gallery enhance the study of aboriginal art
  • The gallery contributes to the appreciation of art and cultural tourism.


Artwork in the National Gallery of Victoria

The NGV is a great source of information on artwork and art pieces drawn from historical and modern eras. The arts student, teacher and curious fanatic can access all sorts of varied and diverse artwork from the gallery. The national gallery of Victoria has a collection of varied artwork ranging from Australian, European to Asian art for diverse periods. International art pieces are held in the original museum while the Australian artwork was moved to the Ian Potter Art Center. NGV’s Australian collection consists of Indigenous art, impressionist painting, and paintings from the colonial period and contemporary art collections since the beginning of the twentieth century. The NGV boasts over 65,000 pieces of art ranging from many centuries ago. Some of the art pieces in NGV’s collection can be found online (about 18540 artworks). Interested art enthusiast can search the internet for artwork and collections rather than visit the museum in person. Australian artwork in exhibition at the gallery includes paintings, drawings and multimedia. There are also pieces on Australian photography, sculptures and decorative arts. The museum is therefore a great source of information on not only modern Australian art but also ancient art.

For the international arts enthusiast the NGV displays a large number of international art pieces. It is a one-stop center for all stakeholders’ art needs. The museum hosts a large collection of European art including photography, fashion items, drawing and prints, Mesoamerican art, Asian art and sculptures and antiquities drawn from all over the world. Its collections vary across Greek, European and Egyptian classics. The international collection in NGV is touted as one of the largest and most extensive in Australia. One of the highlights of the NGV’s international collection is its acquisition of an ancient painting by an Italian painter known as Corregio. Corregio was one of the most prominent personalities during the Italian Renaissance. His painting “Madonna and child” was purchased by NGV for its 150th birthday and is the most expensive single artifact ever acquired by NGV. From its rich collection and increasing improvement of its art pieces, the NGV has largely contributed to the development of artwork in Australia.

Cultural Tourism in Australia

Many cultural tourists in Australia visit the country to explore its rich and diverse aboriginal art and culture. Aboriginal art is indigenous Australian art made and created by Australians and affiliated people. Scholars show differing opinion on the comprehensive definition of cultural tourism. According to Hossain, Heaney and Carter (2005), cultural tourism is a kind of tourism where people visiting participate in one or two cultural events such as visiting heritage buildings and art galleries. Dallen Timothy (2011) divides cultural tourism into two; physical and abstract tourism. He says that physical cultural tourism encompasses objects such as artwork, paintings and heritages sites while abstract encompasses things such as music and language. Douglas et al. (2001) give a more comprehensive definition of cultural tourism. He explains that cultural tourism involves various aspects of culture such as learning about culture and participating in culture. Aboriginal art has rich cultural, religious and mysterious meanings. Paintings and rock art show a great mastery of art and reveal significant cultural information on native Australian people. Aboriginal art gas a deeper meaning vested in ancient native customs, myths and beliefs (Finley 2008). Aboriginal art has been the focus of Australia’s tourism sector for many years. Visitors from within Australia and abroad have generated an interest in the cultural history of aboriginal Australia. Australia boasts of a huge and diverse cultural heritage with the interest in art increasing over the years. According to Foo and Rossetto (1998), cultural tourism all over the world has been increasing at a high rate in the past several decades. Australia itself has registered an increased number of people coming to visit its cultural heritage sites such as NGV to enjoy the variety of artwork. Tourists visit cultural sites to learn more and understand the culture of the Australian people. According to Carol Finley (2008), aboriginal art is an interesting way to learn about the lifestyle of the Australian people. The number of international cultural tourist to Australia has increased over the years with their participation in cultural events also increasing (Hossain, Heaney and Carter 2005). Cultural tourism is thus an integral part of the country’s tourism sector attracting a large number of tourists every year. According to the Australian council for the Arts (2013), about fifty percent of all the tourists that visit Australia every year are cultural tourists. There is no dispute as to the appealing nature of aboriginal art as can be confirmed from this information. Aboriginal art has been influential in enhancing tourism with tourists attracted to a different cultural heritage site every time.


Motivations for Tourists in Cultural Tourism

            There has been an influx of tourists into Australia in recent years. The number of domestic as well as international tourists has spiraled with statistics showing a rising trend in visitors in the tourism sector (Hossain, Heaney and Carter 2005). Several factors have been proposed to explain why there has been an increased trend in cultural tourism in Australia. A tourism survey conducted by Tourism Research Australia showed that majority of cultural tourists visit heritage and historical sites (61%) followed by museums and art galleries (57%). Among all these visitors, museums were cited as the most popular sites (“Australian Council of Arts 2013). These statistics reveal a certain preference of cultural heritage and cultural art by both foreign and domestic tourists. Douglas et al. (2001) outline several factors that act as a motivation for cultural tourists. Among the factors they cite includes a change in the preferences of tourists. According to their book, tourists are getting used to the complex non-cultural tourism and area seeking simple and less packaged kinds of tourism (p.119). Cultural tourism provides this simple type of tourism because it provides for effective communication and interaction unlike wildlife tours. Another explanation of the increasing popularity of cultural tourism is the emergence of a different kind of tourist. Tourists have evolved and modern day tourists want experiences that are intellectually beneficial and educative (Douglas, N., Douglas, N., & Derrett, R., 2001). Other kinds of tourism do not offer this kind of experience. Cultural tourism enables the tourist to interact and learn about cultural meanings and explanations. The cultural tourist therefore earns the opportunity to be more aware and culturally educated than before. Another explanation for the change in preferences is the notion that cultural tourism provides the tourist with a different kind of experience. The cultural tourist gets to enjoy new and more interesting tourism aspects rather than the old and relatively monotonous ones (Smith, 2009, p.33). The above factors show the increasing popularity of cultural/heritage tourism in Australia. Cultural heritage has become an influential factor in the understanding of art in the modern world. Its educative aspect as well as its popularity has made it among the best tools that can be used to understand indigenous culture.

Art Promotion in the NGV

The NGV has long demonstrated a desire to promote local art in Australia. The museum is dedicated to promoting knowledge and awareness about historical artwork as well as promoting new and young talent in contemporary art (“National Gallery of Victoria” 2013). The workshops and classes organized by the NGV engage the students in educative lessons and programs on the collections and exhibitions in the museum. These sessions are held every week with museum authorities providing for an activity for kids, interactive and educative talks, a performance or film and an interesting practical workshop. The art gallery also provides programs for schools and classes for little children. The emphasis on education by the NGV authorities can also be seen in their recent construction of a gallery for training on artistic work (Boland, 2013). In this room, adults and children converge to practice their painting and drawing skills. The authorities have also emphasized on increased interaction and engagement between museum staff and visitors. Staffs are required to be knowledgeable about artwork and to carry out their duties diligently. Tourists and gallery visitors can therefore be assured of an educative experience.



The National Gallery of Victoria is a museum facility rich in cultural and artistic pieces of art. The museum has been instrumental in the promotion of arts education among art, culture lovers and tourists. Through its wide array of cultural and indigenous Australian art, the museum attracts a large number of tourists and locals every year. Its concentric structure accentuates its purpose as a cultural and heritage museum hence the large number of tourists. The museum contributes to tourist education and contemporary art development through a myriad of programs aimed at developing talent and art. The museums extensive display of aboriginal art also plays an important role in attracting art lovers who prefer cultural tourism because of its educative nature and intellectualism. The museum is thus an important source of visitor and tourist education on art issues as well as indigenous and contemporary cultural art.



Acker, T, 2008, ‘Aboriginal Art: It’s a Complicated Thing’, Artlink, 28 (3), Viewed 25 April 2013, < >

Acker writes about the mystery and message of aboriginal art and its appeal to those who are curious. This article helps in clearly understanding the aspects of aboriginal art hitherto unexplored and reveals vital information on why the art is increasingly becoming popular.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 25 August 2006, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: Involvement in Arts and Culture, viewed 25 April 2013.

This document contains statistical records from the ABS about the number of tourists and visitors that visited Australian attractions. It also characterizes the tourists by the attractions they visited and their popular sites. This document helps in understanding the current trend towards cultural/heritage sites by the number of tourists.

Australian Council for the Arts, 2013, Cultural Tourism, Viewed 25 April 2013, < >

This is a summary report by the Australian council on the number of tourists that visited Australian art and culture centers courtesy of a study by Tourism Research Australia. The report provides a simple and concise analysis of art and culture tourism from a statistical perspective.

Boland, M, 16 January 2013 “National Gallery of Victoria Rolls out the Welcome Mat”, Arts, viewed 25 April 2013, < >

Boland outlines the recent changes occurring in the National Gallery of Victoria and their possible impact on cultural tourism. The article gives the audience a glimpse of the efforts by the gallery to improve their tourist facilities as well as boost their service delivery.

Corsane, G, 2005, Heritage, museums and galleries: an introductory reader. London, Routledge.

This book reviews the importance of cultural attractions, their characteristics and the reasons why they attract many visitors. It also outlines the possible improvements to these attractions. This book is important in studying cultural tourism. It provides a general overview of the basic aspects of heritage sites and galleries important for this study.

Douglas, N, Douglas, N., & Derrett, R., 2001, Special interest tourism: context and cases. Brisbane, John Wiley & Sons Australia.

Douglas et al. provide specific examples of heritage sites and the challenges they face. Their book is important in comparison and in examining the intricate details of cultural tourism from a realistic perspective. It provides this research with an array of information on cultural sites.

Finley, C., 2008, Aboriginal art of Australia: exploring cultural traditions, London, Lerner.

Finley looks at the aboriginal art of Australia and examines the details about the art and the interesting factors in the culture. His book contains a lot of information on aboriginal art that has been incorporated into this study.

Foo, L. M. and Rossetto A, 1998, Cultural tourism in Australia characteristics and motivations, Canberra, Bureau of Tourism Research.

Rossetto and Foo examine cultural tourism especially the trends and information about Australia. Considering this research’s focus on cultural tourism, the book enables a clear understanding of this concept and provides vital information on heritage attractions.

Gartner, W C, & Lime, D W, 2000, Trends in outdoor recreation, leisure, and tourism, Wallingford, Oxon, UK, CABI Pub.

Gartner and Lime identify the changing trends in tourism and leisure attractions. This book is important for this study as it analyzes the growing popularity of cultural heritage sites in recent times and provides reasons for that trend.

Hossain, A, Carter, P, & Heaney, L, 2005, Cultural tourism in regions of Australia, Canberra, Bureau of Tourism Research.

Hossain, Carter and Heaney carry out a study on cultural tourism in Australia. Their study identifies several emerging aspects of tourism and reveals the tendency of tourists and locals to cultural attractions. Their study provides additional information on the status of cultural tourism in Australia.

Ivanovic, M, 2008, Cultural tourism, Cape Town, South Africa, Juta.

This book focuses on cultural tourism. The trends, the positives and the negatives. It provides different perspectives of cultural tourism and a host of other information drawn from all over the world.

Kay, P, “Determinants of Cultural Event Tourist Motivation”, Victoria University, 2007.

This paper analyzes the factors that motivate tourist into visiting cultural attractions. It provides insight into some of the factors that have motivated the influx of both domestic and foreign tourists to local heritage sites.

Melbourne, n.d., National Gallery of Victoria, Viewed 25 April 2013, < >

This website provides information on Melbourne and its heritage sites as well as other locations. It provides a lot of important information on the National Gallery of Victoria and its surroundings.

National Gallery Of Victoria, & Ryan, J., 2002, Indigenous Australian art in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria.

This publication focuses on the kinds of aboriginal art present in the NGV; it helped this research in validating the real existence of aboriginal art in the NGV. It provided important information on NGV’s indigenous art collections.

National Gallery of Victoria, 2013, People & Projects, Viewed 25 April 2013, < >

NGV’s website contains a lot of information on its management structure and collaborators as well as funding. This webpage provided information on the management structure as used in this research.

Richards, G, & Munsters, W, (2010). Cultural tourism research methods. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, U.K., CAB International.

This book though primarily based on research methods contains some valuable information on cultural tourism. Its information on the factors motivating cultural tourism was important for this research,

Richards, G, 2007, Cultural tourism: global and local perspectives, New York, Haworth Hospitality Press.

Richards explores the issue of cultural tourism from the American and international perspective. He focuses on the growth of this kind of tourism especially in particular parts of Europe such as Australia. The information on Australia was a valuable addition to the ones available.

Timothy, D, J, 2011, Cultural heritage and tourism: an introduction, Bristol, Channel View Publications.

Timothy examines cultural tourism issues, various aspects and practices. The information contained in this book was of vital importance especially in the analyses of the NGV’s cultural art promotion.

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