Canberra Museums and Galleries

Canberra Museums and Galleries As you probably already know – Canberra, Australia’s capital, is the epicentre for Australian history, culture and politics, home to various museums and galleries. The Australian War Memorial and the National…

13 Aug 20 · 4 mins read

Canberra Museums and Galleries

As you probably already know – Canberra, Australia’s capital, is the epicentre for Australian history, culture and politics, home to various museums and galleries. The Australian War Memorial and the National Gallery making up just two of five major culture centres in Canberra, our nation’s capital. Join Odyssey’s small group tour to Canberra and make sure to make time to visit these landmarks during your Canberra trip.

The Design of Canberra

An international competition was held in 1911 for a design of Australia’s capital city, the Yass-Canberra district having been previously chosen as its site. The competition was won by Walter Burkley Griffin, a young and gifted architect from Oak Park, Illinois, who prepared his design assisted by his new bride Marion, also an architect.

Both had worked with the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, taking influence from him. They both shared an interest in in ‘Spirt of Nature’, and the philosophy of Emerson and Thoreau. Patterns of nature inspired the built form, abstracted into geometric elements. Wright himself was influenced in part by William Morris’ Arts and Crafts Movement (which features heavily in Adelaide’s architecture) emphasising the preservation of the natural qualities of materials.

Griffin’s plan for Canberra envisaged a garden city of 75,000 people, laid out in an attractive geometric pattern intricately developed from the topography of the valley, with tree lined avenues through it and an ornamental lake at its heart. The main streets of the city were to radiate from focuses—the houses of Parliament, a municipal centre, and a commercial district.

Griffin arrived in 1913 to oversee the detailed planning of his modern city. However, he had no experience of managing such a big project and it did not suit his temperament. He struggled with considerable political and bureaucratic obstacles and with limited government funding due to the outbreak of the First World War.

As a result, several parts of his design were eliminated, and the pace of building was slower than expected. By 1920, little work had been done other than a cursory staking out of the main roads. At the end of the year, more or less by mutual agreement, he left the project.

Many of his planning skills were instead utilised for the New South Wales country towns of Griffith and Leeton. In Canberra, only his layout was implemented: the avenues, the round abouts, and the lake that cuts the city in half. On top of this an entirely new city was built, including none of the buildings he designed.

Museums and Galleries

The Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial is Trip Advisor’s number one attraction in Canberra. It tells the stories of men and women who have served, and continue to serve our nation in conflict, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. More than 102,000 names of fallen members of the armed forces, along the bronze panels, exclaim the consequences of war all too clearly, while the memorial’s comprehensive galleries try to show the how, where and why.

There is plenty to see if you have a full day to visit the Memorial, so please make sure you make this day trip.

Australian War Memorial

National Museum of Australia

The National Museum (NMA) profiles 50,000 years of Indigenous heritage, reserves and interprets Australia’s social history, exploring the key issues, people and events that have shaped the nation and settlement since 1788. It was formally established by the National Museum of Australia Act 1980. The museum is located on a peninsula in Lake Burley Griffin, central Canberra.

Lake Burley Griffin, including Black Mountain Tower, the Australian National Museum shot from a hot air balloon.

National Library of Australia

Created in 1960 and formerly the Commonwealth National Library and Commonwealth Parliament Library, is the largest reference library in Australia, responsible under the terms of the National Library Act 1960 for “maintaining and developing a national collection of library material, including a comprehensive collection of library material relating to Australia and the Australian people”.

National Gallery of Australia

The comprehensive collection of works in Australia’s national gallery, opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on 12 October 1982, includes Australian, indigenous and Torres Strait Islander, American and European, Asian and Pacific art; in total over 166,000 permanent works. The national gallery is built in the late 20th-century Brutalist style.

“The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, basking in warm late afternoon sunshine and with a deep blue sky. The artworks are on permanent public display and OK to photograph. More Australia”

National Portrait Gallery

Opened in 1968, the National Portrait Gallery is a collection of significant portraits of famous and infamous Aussies from across the ages, i.e. Captain James Cook, Nick Cave, Barry Humphries, Lin Chin, Mick Fanning, and Betty Cuthbert in various mediums, from sculptures to oils on canvas.

Tour of Canberra

For Odyssey, our Canberra and Southern highlands small group tour, escorted by an Odyssey tour guide, provides a platform for you to discover our nation’s capital on a small group coach tour with only 12 participants.

This type of small group tour of Australia is for the senior traveller who is after a small group tour, escorted by Odyssey’s tour guide/travel expert. We welcome a solo traveller or couples, as well as smaller groups of friends.

External articles to assist you on your visit to Canberra and the Southern Highlands

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