Brisbane's must-see art exhibitions

Brisbane’s art scene is on fire, offering a year-round calendar of big exhibitions at the major galleries, and smaller niche ones at the boutique art spots around town. Whether you’re looking to reflect and browse through the work of an established local artist, or be inspired by some of the cutting-edge international contemporary art, have a read below to find out what’s on right now. 

QAGOMA

James Turrell: Night Life 2018

Permanent

At dusk, the Gallery of Modern Art turns into a captivating light installation that illuminates the Brisbane night sky along the bank of the Brisbane River. Commissioned in 2017 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Gallery of Modern Art, James Turrell’s Night Life 2018 ignites different coloured panels that compliment the architectural design of the gallery from within the building. Running from sunset to midnight everyday, these blocks of light challenge the viewer and play with perception, engaging the inquisitive mind to examine how we are affected by light. We recommend taking in this installation after work, wander down and have a picnic dinner, listen to some tunes and enjoy bathing in the glow. 

The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT9)

24 November until 28 April | free

Featuring more than 80 artists from over 30 countries, The APT9 exhibition brings to life new installations, paintings, sculptures, photographs and videos from the Asia Pacific region. All works will be shown across both gallery space at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. Challenging the definition of contemporary art, this exhibition asks the viewer to question and explore its relationship to shifting social structures across the Asia Pacific. These exhibitions take place every three years and contain truly immersive, unique and inspiring art that has not been shown together in this formation anywhere else, don't miss out on  this ambitious series this Summer.     

Australian Art Collection

Permanent 

The Queensland Art Gallery has spent over 120 years establishing and building the Australian Art Collection. This collection is comprised of local and indigenous artists from different time periods and cultures that specifically focus on themes of geography, country and identity. These key pieces explore the artists environment while revealing a network of connections to their stories of traversal and encounter, of immigration, colonisation and the expatriate experience.   

Indigenous Australian Art Collection: Namatjira Story 

Permanent

This exhibition showcases work from Albert Namatjira a Western Arrernete-speaking artist from the MacDonnell Ranges, west of Alice Springs in Central Australia.  A pioneer of contemporary Indigenous Australian art in the 1950's, Namatjira landscape painting style is different from traditional Aboriginal art. He adopts bold colours and approaches his landscapes with a western-style. Hanging alongside his works in this exhibition are the paintings by those he influenced, creating a strong narrative of his work and story as an artist. 

International Art Collection

Permanent 

From the influence of Japanese art on French Modernism to the representation of daily life, the display explores rich dialogues across time and between cultures, punctuated with contemporary works that engage with these themes and histories. 

Brisbane Powerhouse 

Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm

World Press Photo Exhibition

Waiting on 2019 dates | Free

The walls of the Powerhouse will be covered with the world’s most compelling, controversial and intimate moments, as captured by award-winning photojournalists from around the globe, for one month only. This annual exhibition profiles work from the world’s top press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers, who captured an event or issue of great journalistic importance in the past year, drawing entries from 4548 photographers from 125 countries, submitting 73,044 images.

State Library of Queensland

State Library of Queensland

Palm Island and Our People

Until 22 April 2019 | Free

Past, present and future. This exhibition marks the centenary of the first forced placement of people on Palm Island. This history and the communities story is showcased through images, memorabilia and digital stories thoughtfully curated and shared with the Brisbane public. 

Plantation Voices

Until 8 September 2019 | Free

This exhibition explores the living history and stories of many unknown individuals forced to work int he sugarcane farms of tropical Queensland.  Through never-before-seen original photography, rare historical papers and newly commissioned works you are invited to follow the journey of these workers and their decedents in reclaiming their lost past and forging their future identities. 

Queensland Museum and Sciencentre

NASA - A Human Adventure

15 March - 9 October 2019

Celebrate all things space and NASA with this amazing exhibition that journeys through humankind's exploration of space. Discover the history of rocket science and space flight and learn about some of the most extraordinary accomplishments in space technology.

Museum of Brisbane

The Designers' Guide: Easton Pearson Archive

23 November 2018 - 22 April 2019

Australia’s fashion storytellers, Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, took a unique approach to fashion, referencing art, travel, film, literature, music and emotions to design and craft a bold aesthetic with daring patterns, innovative materials, meticulous techniques and a sustainable ethos. For the first major exhibition from the Easton Pearson Archive (donated in 2017 by Dr Paul Eliadis, a Brisbane-based philanthropist and arts patron), Museum of Brisbane asked Pam and Lydia to select the designs they felt highlighted the greatest innovations of their design practice and to share the stories behind the evolution of each garment. Expect to see the garments displayed on more than 60 forms along with lookbooks, sketches and more.

Brisbane Art Design 2019

10 - 26 May 2019

Brisbane Art Design (BAD) will celebrate visual art and design, animating a network of parks, laneways, galleries, artists spaces and studios at 25 locations across the city. The festival will showcase the many talented artists and designers of Brisbane. The centrepiece will be a major exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane.

Institute of Modern Art

Institute of Modern Art

Mitchell Fine Art 

Mitchell Art Gallery

This gallery showcases a selection of Australia's leading Aboriginal and contemporary artists work. With a new exhibition every month, you will be able to visit again and again and discover the amazing talent the Australian art-world has on offer.  Check out the 2019 exhibition calendar here

Brisbane Street Art Festival

4 - 19 May 2019 | Free


Over the past three years Brisbane Street Art Festival has connected hundreds of multidisciplinary artists, showcasing the work of local, national and international street artists.

For more art exhibitions across Brisbane, use our events calendar to see what else is on.

Museum of Brisbane

Life in Irons: Brisbane's Convict Stories

Until 28 October 2018 | Free

Back in 1824 life was unrelentingly harsh for the 3,000 men and women imprisoned as convicts here until the penal colony’s closure in 1839. This also irrevocably changed the life of the Aboriginal peoples on whose Country the colony was built. This exhibition offers a rare chance to view some of the few remaining official documents from the Brisbane penal colony.

100% Brisbane

Until 30 June 2019 | Free

We are pulling back the layers of our city, going beneath the surface of high rises and the jacaranda trees to discover the very real heart of Brisbane’s story. You. Me. And everyone in between. This landmark exhibition also invites you to have your say and contribute to this incredible self-portrait of the city. 100% Brisbane will not only change the way you think about museums, it will change the way you think about Brisbane.

Coming soon

The Designers' Guide: Easton Pearson Archive

23 November 2018 - 22 April 2019

Australia’s fashion storytellers, Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, took a unique approach to fashion, referencing art, travel, film, literature, music and emotions to design and craft a bold aesthetic withdaring patterns, innovative materials, meticulous techniques and a sustainable ethos. For the first major exhibition from the Easton Pearson Archive (donated in 2017 by Dr Paul Eliadis, a Brisbane-based philanthropist and arts patron), Museum of Brisbane asked Pam and Lydia to select the designs they felt highlighted the greatest innovations of their design practice and to share the stories behind the evolution of each garment. Expect to see the garments displayed on more than 60 forms along with lookbooks, sketches and more.

Make the most of your day