The City Gallery presents free, quarterly exhibitions on city life, past and present. The City Gallery is programmed by Eddie Butler-Bowdon, Program Manager, Art and Heritage Collection, Arts Melbourne Branch, City of Melbourne.
Artworks and artefacts reign supreme in this small space, and the City of Melbourne’s Art and Heritage Collection inspires the exhibitions. Specialist curators – often working in collaboration with artists and filmmakers – offer intriguing views of Melbourne life.
Supremely central yet curiously hard to find, the City Gallery is set in the Swanston Street façade of Melbourne Town Hall, where it shares an entrance with City of Melbourne Customer Service. Two large windows form the gallery’s face to the street, with window signage displaying the current show to passers-by. The gallery’s location helps it deliver on its role as both sponge and mirror to urban life. It also assists in its main request of the public, which is to drop by four times each year, with 20 minutes to spare and a fascination for city life.
By any standard the Art and Heritage Collection is eclectic. Its most basic division is between its indoor and outdoor components, between artworks that need to be protected from the elements and those that do not. Eight thousand items have been catalogued.
Lord Mayoral portraits are the cornerstone of the indoor collection and take pride of place in the Melbourne Town Hall. Other key categories of the indoor collection include artworks and artefacts relating to: the ceremonial and civic functions of Council, including gifts; the multiple branches and activities of the City of Melbourne; events that have taken place in the City, such as the Moomba Festival and the 1956 Olympic Games; historic Melbourne more generally; and a contemporary art collection which favours representations of Melbourne and city life, works by urban Indigenous artists and environmental themes. The Art and Heritage Collection is a working collection. At any point in time, much of the collection is on display in either the Melbourne Town Hall, the City Gallery (free admission), or other Council buildings. Items not on display are held at the collection store in Little Bourke Street, a secure facility with temperature and climate control. The collection store provides a centre for research, conservation and collection management. Items held in the store are brought out on display on a rotational basis.
getting to the gallery
By Public Transport
The Melbourne Town Hall is a short walk from Flinders Street train station, or a quick tram trip up Swanston Street (only one stop).
City Gallery is located near the corner of Swanston and Little Collins Streets in the City. There are many car parks operating within easy walking distance to the venue.
City Gallery is wheelchair accessible.