Foyer of The Henry Jones Art Hotel. Image: Adam Gibson/The Henry Jones Art Hotel.
Hobart’s visual arts scene has an enviable (and well-deserved) reputation both nationally and internationally these days, with a vibrant and unique culture known for being as innovative and engaging as it is resourceful and collaborative.
So if art is your thing, Hobart really is the place to be. But, with such a sprawling and varied ecosystem of galleries and art spaces, where do you start?
Who better to ask than the University of Tasmania’s Bachelor of Fine Arts students?
We surveyed our Hobart-based students about the best galleries to visit in and around town, and why these particular ones tickled their creative fancies.
Here is our top nine.
1. Mona (Museum of Old and New Art)
Well, obviously, right? It really is impossible to list Hobart’s top galleries without mentioning its most famous (or infamous) artistic landmark, and with good reason.
Built on the edge of the River Derwent at Berriedale as a private project by art collector David Walsh, Mona is a must-see gallery with arguably the most eclectic collection of weird, wonderful and sometimes downright bonkers art exhibits in the world.
Alongside an incredible revolving collection of art and antiquities, you will find exhibits like Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional (the “poo machine”), Sidney Nolan’s immense artwork Snake, and the ever popular Sex and Death Gallery.
Fine Arts students praise Mona for its mix of contemporary and historical art, its bold curatorial decisions, its amazing architecture and unique atmosphere.
To quote one student: “Because it’s Mona, baby! No reason needed.”
Entry to Mona is free for Tasmanians. Adult and concession prices for non-Tasmanians apply.
2. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG)
Established in 1863, TMAG is Tasmania’s leading natural and cultural heritage museum, with a focus on everything from fossils to fine art.
Exhibitions are carefully curated to be culturally significant and informative, with major exhibitions changing regularly.
Our students appreciate TMAG for its commitment to helping visitors understand the historical context of the works on display, with many physical and interactive elements and a reputation for being suitable for the whole family.
Entry to TMAG is free for the public. Special exhibits may occasionally require paid entry.
3. Good Grief Studios
Located in a former automotive warehouse in Argyle Street in the CBD, Good Grief Studios is a non-profit artist-run space dedicated to supporting emerging and experimental art practices.
The space incorporates exhibitions, studio-based practices, performances and an art shop. It has more than a dozen resident artist spaces representing a huge diversity of practices from textiles and painting through to sculpture, video and installation.
Our students enjoy Good Grief’s inclusivity and community focus, with a friendly and welcoming environment.
Entry to Good Grief Studios is free for the public.
4. Salamanca Arts Centre (SAC)
Hosting a mix of art exhibitions, performances, events and festivals, the Salamanca Arts Centre is one of Hobart’s most iconic venues, located in the historic Salamanca Place precinct on the waterfront.
It is a gallery that is deeply respected among the state’s artistic community and its industrial colonial architecture marks it out as one of the more distinctive exhibition spaces in the state.
Students admire its location and reputation as well as its status as a kind of hub surrounded by numerous smaller independent maker's galleries in Salamanca.
Entry to SAC is free for the public. Special exhibits may occasionally require paid entry.
5. Bett Gallery
Located in the CBD in Murray Street, Bett Gallery was established in 1986 and represents many of Tasmania’s leading contemporary artists, while also supporting young, emerging artists.
Bett Gallery exhibits work by painters, sculptors, photographers, jewellers, print-makers and ceramicists.
Bett Gallery is also an active supporter of our Fine Arts students, with the Bett Gallery Award given each year to a group of selected graduating students who show a particularly high standard of artistic merit, imagination and determination.
The winners of this award have the opportunity to join the Bett Gallery's exhibition program, culminating in a specifically branded group exhibition.
Entry to Bett Gallery is free for the public.
6. Rosny Farm Arts Centre
Colloquially referred to as “Rosny Farm” or “The Barn”, this is the Eastern Shore’s cultural centre, a historic site on the Rosny Hill near Eastlands shopping centre.
The old sandstone buildings and gallery spaces of Rosny Farm Arts Centre stand in the middle of beautifully landscaped gardens. The Barn itself hosts recitals, concerts, exhibitions, events and workshops.
And the Schoolhouse Gallery hosts exhibitions of contemporary art, community art, and historical displays.
Entry to Rosny Farm Arts Centre is free for the public. Special exhibits may occasionally require paid entry.
Based out of TOMB (the old Mercury building for those not in the know) on Macquarie Street, Detached offers an autonomous platform for the development, presentation, and preservation of artworks and cultural projects through fostering a culture of curiosity, as expressed through art, science, education and democracy.
It provides opportunities and support for artists, curators, critics, and scholars to contribute to contemporary society, through the questioning of, and engagement with, our cultural heritage.
Our students say they are drawn to the exhibitions and artists presented by Detached, as well as the (rather elusive) site itself.
Detached opens occasionally for exhibitions, events and private tours. Keep up-to-date @detachedhobart.
8. The Henry Jones Art Hotel
Occupying the historic former jam factory on Hunter Street, The Henry Jones is located a few doors down the road from where students develop their own creative practice. It's naturally a source of inspiration and enjoyment for many.
Behind its handsome façade, the hotel complex features an assortment of exhibition spaces, a large open courtyard, and bars and eateries. Every space and room is used to showcase original works by contemporary Tasmanian artists.
Students reported that the staff are so keen to help visitors navigate the spaces that even the housekeeping team will discuss the artwork with you in the corridors.
Art and history tours run daily and are complimentary to hotel guests / $20 per person for external guests.
9. Despard Gallery
Despard Gallery has been an established commercial art space in Hobart for 30 years and is located in the heart of the city’s arts precinct, on Castray Esplanade, not far from the Salamanca Arts Centre.
Even the 1837 building has been sensitively restored to turn its convict-built structure and vintage graffiti into works of art in their own right.
Despard focuses on established and emerging artists from Australia and around the world.
Entry to Despard Gallery is free for the public.
Where can you explore our students' work?
While there's a good chance you will find works by Fine Arts students and graduates (and our staff) at the galleries above, you can also visit the Plimsoll Gallery and Entrepôt Gallery located on-campus within the Creative Arts Precinct on Hunter Street.
The Plimsoll Gallery showcases touring and curated exhibitions of innovative local, national and international contemporary art and design, along with the work of Honours and Research students.
The Entrepôt Gallery (run in partnership with the Tasmanian University Student Association) offers undergraduate students the opportunity to develop their professional practice by exhibiting and curating new and experimental work in a public gallery space.
Visit the events calendar for upcoming exhibitions and to subscribe to the mailing list.