The Art Gallery of Ballarat houses major collections covering the history of Australian art from the early colonial period to the present day, including has one of the most comprehensive collections of Australian paintings in the nation. Virtually every movement or trend that has come to the fore since the colonial era is represented.
The collection is presented in a series of rooms ranging in style from the opulence of the 1880s through to the most recent extension, with its clean lines and subtle use of natural light. The display of the collection is dynamic and always changing, as works go out or return from loan or conservation. The Gallery is also ready to explore ways of finding relevance to the connection for contemporary audiences.
The strength of the Gallery collection has led to a focus on major exhibitions which build on, explore or provide a context for works in the Gallery.
When the Gallery started actively collecting works of art in the late 1880s, its early acquisitions were paintings by British and European artists. This holding has been added to over time with occasional gifts, bequests and purchases, but the Gallery’s acquisitions policy is now to collect work by Australian artists or which have a strong Australian connection.
Works on Paper
The Art Gallery of Ballarat has a very fine holding of works on paper, with a particular strength in the area of political cartoons. It has a holding of rare books, which started with the benefactions of the Hon. Richard Crouch, whose donations include medieval manuscripts and early printed books, and Lady Currie of Ercildoune, who gave the Gallery an extensive library of volumes which illustrate the European exploration and settlement of the South Pacific.