sacred gods from Polynesia

Ancient Polynesia remains one of the great mysteries of human migration

Opens Friday 23 May 2014

This new exhibition Atua: sacred gods from Polynesia, explores the relationship between atua and art, between spirits and sculpture, between gods and priests, between women and men.

It looks at some of the most unique works of art in the Polynesian world and tries to make sense of an enduring mystery surrounding religious objects and their association with belief in gods.

In this exhibition 'presence' is something the viewer may experience. It may be the thrill of standing in the presence of a real god from a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean–a battered god, a god that has lost his arms, yet a god that can stand up today, on his four legs, looking past you into the night with his unseeing eyes, imparting a sense of stillness and peace.

Michael Gunn, Senior Curator, Pacific Arts and Atua exhibition Curator will give a talk on Atua: Polynesian Art on 24 May at 2pm.


(cover + banner image): Female figure (moai papa) Rapa Nui (Easter Island), eastern Polynesia probably early 19th century (detail). Otago Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand



Sunday 11 May 2014
3 – 5pm
Gandel Hall
$79 Guests, $69 NGA Members

To celebrate Mother's Day we invite you to enjoy high tea in the majestic Gandel Hall at the National Gallery of Australia.

Enjoy a glass of sparkling on arrival and indulge yourself with an elegant selection of delicacies brought together by The Big Group, with dainty tea sandwiches and warm baked scones with preserves and cream and a selection of mini cakes, pastries and savoury treats.

Book now


Mother's Day Special

20% off entire store

Until Sunday 11 May

(image): Wayne Thiebaud Daffodil 1979, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
purchased 1979. © Wayne Thiebaud. Licensed by Viscopy.


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Members news

Members have been enjoying their exclusive membership benefits by engaging with curators, going behind the scenes and meeting Australia's leading art conservators.

Our members had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and into the restricted areas of the Gallery to gain an insight into the often hidden work of the conservators at the National Gallery. They enjoyed learning about paper and painting conservation, and after two fascinating talks, members joined the Gallery's conservation staff to enjoy a decadent spread of cakes and coffee. 

There was an afternoon of art and bubbles in the Australian Garden with Curator, Lucina Ward.

Here they learnt about the James Turrell Skyspace 'Within Without', before going inside this impressive sculpture to watch the sunset. With the days now shortening, it is a wonderful time of the year to visit the Skyspace, dawn or dusk, to experience the full phenomenon of the sculpture.

All members are warmly invited to continue participating in exclusive and engaging events. Due to the popularity of our events, Members events scheduled for winter 2014 calendar are now able to be booked in to online at the members exclusive website.

Book now to avoid missing out.




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with Betty Churcher

The Natonal Gallery of Australia presents a very special luncheon event

Thursday 15 May
Gandel Hall
Bookings essential

Ron Radford AM – Director of the National Gallery of Australia
and Betty Churcher AO – Former Director of the National Gallery of Australia come together in conversation to celebrate the launch of Betty's new book Australian Notebooks.

(image): Cover of Betty Churcher's new book Australian Notebooks


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In her latest book Betty visits the glorious work of Australian artists such as John Olsen, Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan, as well as masterpieces by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse and Giambattista Tiepolo.

Accompanied by her own accomplished sketches Betty draws out the particular charm and context of each piece.

Betty and Ron will discuss works featured in the book and from the national art collection.  A book signing will take place following the lunch.

$70 Members | $80 Non-Members.
Includes Champagne on arrival,
2 course lunch and beverages.

Book now



Classical Javanese dance performance

Sunday 18 May
1.30 - 2.30pm

3.30 - 4.30pm (repeat)
James O Fairfax Theatre

A unique opportunity to see expressive Javanese dance associated with the courtly, refined and sophisticated culture of the Javanese kratons or palaces.

The Indonesian Embassy Canberra in collaboration with the Special Province of Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta Palace) present a performance of classical Javanese dances by nine dancers from the Yogya Kraton, Java.

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(image): Javanese dance performance, Yogyakarta Palace

Winter Film
Series 2014

2014 Winter Film Series Launch and Preview

Tuesday 20 May

James O Fairfax Theatre

You're invited to preview The Winter Film series 2014 curated by Dr Simon Weaving, Canberra Times film critic and writer.

Weaving will launch the program of six exciting recent films about the creative genius that lies behind art and culture.


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(image): Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait, Undated. (One of the films on show during the Winter Film Series Finding Vivian Maier)

for the nation

Masterpieces for the Nation Fund 2014

Help us bring an Australian colonial masterpiece into the national art collection

The National Gallery of Australia Foundation is excited to announce the launch of the Masterpieces for the Nation Fund 2014. This campaign is an annual fundraising initiative of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation that aims to draw together the generosity of individual donors from all over Australia into one special collective.

This year, the Masterpieces for the Nation Fund will support the acquisition of Benjamin Duterrau's charming portrait painting An infant of Van Diemen's Land 1840.

This delightful and innocent painting is one of only about twenty-five oil paintings that have survived and can be firmly ascribed to the artist, who travelled to Australia as a free settler at the age of sixty-five and established himself as a keen observer of life in colonial Tasmania.


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Please support the development of the national art collection by donating towards the acquisition of Benjamin Duterrau's An infant of Van Diemen's Land 1840. This acquisition will only be possible with your generous support. 


(image): Benjamin Duterrau An infant of Van Diemen's Land 1840, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra purchased 2013

with ART

Do you love art and want to know what we're up to?

Follow the National Gallery of Australia on social media to stay up to date about our collection, programs and what's going on behind the scenes.

Find us on:


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We also have some great resources on YouTube, and some fantastic images from our events and programs on Flickr, so there are plenty of platforms for you to get involved in.

We hope to see you there!


New South Wales
Carol Jerrems: Photographic Artist | Casula Powerhouse, Liverpool NSW, until 18 May 2014

The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift: Red Case: Myths and rituals and Yellow Case: Form, Space and Design | Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns QLD, from 8 May until 2 June 2014

South Australia
The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift: Blue Case: Technology | Mercedes College, Springfield SA, until 26 May 2014

Disability Information & Resource Centre (DIRC), Adelaide SA, from 28 May until 2 July 2014

Capital and Country: the Federation years 1900-1914 | Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Hobart TAS until 11 May 2014


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The Elaine and Jom Wolfensohn gift: The 1888 Melbourne Cup |
Wangaratta Art Gallery, Wangaratta VIC until 14 May 2014

Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, Swan Hill VIC, from 15 May until 2 July 2014


(image) Tom Roberts Madame Hartl 1909-10, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1969
(on display in Capital and Country: the Federation years 1900-1914)

Win movie
tickets to

Sunshine on Leith

Thanks to eOne Films, we have 10 double passes to give away to see Sunshine on Leith.

Hearts are broken and mended, children lost and found, secrets and lies kept and revealed in this jubilant, heartfelt musical about the power of home, family and love.

In cinemas 22 May 2014.

For your chance to win a double pass to see this movie, warm up your vocal chords and briefly tell us your favourite musical film and why. Was it the catchy tunes, great costumes, or did it just make you feel good?

Remember to include your name and postal address and email by Monday 12 May 2014.

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We will pick the best toe-tappers. Good luck!

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