Gold and
the Incas
Lost worlds of Peru

In Canberra this summer the breathtaking Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru will be on display from 6 December to 21 April 2014 - tickets on sale now.

The exhibition will demonstrate the technical virtuosity and expressive power of the Inca Empire and their many predecessors. Over a period of 3,000 years, successive ancient Peruvian cultures conveyed their complex mythologies through astonishing art, most dazzlingly in gold.

A variety of ancient cultures flourished up until 1533, when the Spanish conquistadors defeated the Inca Empire and took all the precious metal they could, to be melted down and sent back to Europe. Many breathtaking objects, however, remained buried and have been discovered in modern times.

(image) INCA culture, Centre, south and north 1400-1533AD Face beaker, gold, Museo Oro del Perú, Lima, Photograph: Daniel Giannoni

Gold, valued for its lustre, was polished to a spectacular shine. It represented the sun, day and male, while silver stood for the moon, night and female.

Objects and figures were often found in pairs – a gold man and a silver woman – or divided with one side gold and the other silver.

By around 100 BC Vicús metal smiths had mastered advanced electroplating techniques. Body adornments were made from gilt copper, with only an extremely thin layer (0.008 mm thick) of gold covering the surface. Artists produced strikingly large sculptural items of jewellery with the appearance of pure gold.

The later Sicán culture is famous for the luxury and excess of its golden objects. They worked with copper, gold and silver, combining the metals to produce an alloy known as tumbaga. The use of alloys demonstrates the symbolic importance of gold and silver, rather than their literal value. For the ancient Peruvians it was not the purity of the metal that was important, but the colour of the finished object.

Throughout Peruvian ancient history invading cultures would kidnap the best artists, who would continue to produce fine metal objects for successive kingdoms. When the Inca took control of northern Peru they kidnapped the talented Chimú gold and silver smiths and took them to their capital of Cuzco. Mines and the metal work produced belonged to the Inca royal family, who were seen by the people as divine rulers covered head to toe in regalia made from silver and gold.

- Simeran Maxwell
Assistant Curator of Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru

Don't miss this spectacular exhibition. Buy your tickets now!

(banner image) VICÚS culture, North coast 100 BC – 400 AD Pectoral, Ministerio de Cultura del Perú: Sala de Oro del Museo Municipal Vicús, Piura, Photograph: Daniel Giannoni

Novotel hotel package

Enjoy a cultural getaway and experience Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru with Novotel Canberra.

As the official accommodation partner of the National Gallery of Australia's Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru exhibition, Novotel Canberra is offering a special package which includes overnight accommodation in a standard room, full buffet breakfast and untimed tickets to the exhibition for two people, from just $195.00* per room per night.

Click here for more information or to make a booking.

* Valid for stays at Novotel Canberra only between 6 December 2013 and 21 April 2014 inclusive. Conditions apply.

View full terms and conditions

Looking to Learn

In January 2014, over three days, educators from across the nation and beyond will converge at the National Gallery of Australia to learn, be inspired and to make professional and personal connections with like-minded individuals, colleagues and friends at the second National Visual Art Education Conference.

Following on from the success of the first conference in 2012, the second is shaping up to be even better. Keynote speakers include Australian artists Shaun Gladwell and Fiona Hall as well as Dr Emily Pringle, Head of Learning Practice and Research at Tate Gallery, London and Ron Ritchhart, Senior Research Associate, Harvard Project Zero and Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Additional speakers include artists Kathy Temin, Jonathan Jones, Marian Drew, and Ricardo Idagi as well as a number of other arts professionals, curriculum experts and curators.

With ten practical workshops on offer that include printmaking, life drawing, traditional basket making, photography and drawing with ipads, there is sure to be something for everyone.

The conference is aimed at pre-school, primary, middle school, secondary and tertiary educators, as well as artists and educators from the museum and public gallery sectors.

With the Australian Curriculum for the Arts due for implementation in February 2014, we look forward to welcoming those interested in visual arts education from around the country and beyond at this crucial time for arts education.

For more information please check the website.

Take advantage of the early bird registration which closes on Sunday 15 December.

(banner image) Richard Bell Kamilaroi/Kooma/Jiman/Gurang/Gurang peoples Big brush stroke 2005, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra purchased 2007. Courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery 

Members news

As summer is now upon us our attention turns to Gold and the Incas: lost worlds of Peru. A host of events are planned over the summer months so members can engage with the drama and beauty of the famous Incan empire and its predecessors. With more than 200 extraordinary objects on display it is the most important survey exhibition of Peruvian art ever staged in Australia.

Remember to take advantage of your membership benefits. You'll receive discounts on exhibition tickets and discounts in the Gallery shops, Members Lounge and cafes.

The Gift of Membership
Membership of the National Gallery of Australia enriches your art experience and enables you to make a significant contribution to the ongoing development of the Gallery, its programs and the national art collection.

This Christmas unlock the joys of being a member for a friend or family member by giving them a Membership for Christmas. Your gift will allow the recipient to enjoy exclusive exhibition viewings, participate in members only programs and be stimulated by engaging events.

Members Curators Dinner
Join exhibition curator Christine Dixon for an exclusive introduction and viewing of the exhibition Gold and the Incas, followed by a three course Peruvian feast and entertainment.

$190 members | $200 guests (includes exhibition entry)
Gandel Hall - bookings essential

Book Here!

Exclusive Members Offers

  • Museum of Contemporary Art - Exclusive offer

The Museum of Contemporary Art is offering of National Gallery of Australia Members 20% of adult tickets.

Experience the works of legendary artist, peace activist and musician, Yoko Ono, when the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia brings War Is Over! (if you want it) exclusively to Sydney this summer. Redeem this online offer

  • Art Monthly Australia - Subscription discount

As of this month Art Monthly Australia magazine is offering NGA Members an ongoing discount on subscriptions to NGA Members
- 1 year subscription: $90 (rrp $100)
- 2 year subscription: $175 (rrp $190)

To subscribe, email: artmonthly.admin@anu.edu.au
call (02) 61253988 or
visit their website

(image left) David Moore Battersea Fun Fair, London c.1952 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra purchased 1976 © David Moore Estate


The new Summer calendar is now available online!

Check out all the programs and events on at the Gallery including events related to the Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru on show from 6 December to 21 April 2014.

During the holidays lots of family activities and other great events are scheduled over the coming months - make sure you book early to avoid missing out!

View the full 2013-2014 Summer Calendar


Qantas Indigenous flying art

On Monday 25 November 2013, Director of the National Gallery of Australian, Ron Radford, and participants of the Wesfarmers Indigenous Leaders Program, attended the Canberra launch of the fourth aircraft in Qantas' flying art series.

The plane's livery is an interpretation of artist Paddy Bedford's painting Medicine Pocket 2005, which was gifted to the Gallery in 2012 by the Estate of Paddy Bedford. 

The plane has been named Mendoowoorrji in honour of Bedford's mother's country in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. 

The National Gallery of Australia was thrilled to collaborate on this project with long time art partner Qantas as well as Balarinji Design Studio and the Bedford Trust.

(image) Some of the participants in the 2013 WesfarmersArts and National Gallery of Australia's Indigenous Leadership Program at the Qantas aircraft launch at Canberra airport. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Canberra connection
Micky Allan: My trip

My trip by Micky Allan was recently acquired by the Gallery to complement a number of Allan's works in the photographic and painting collections, and is a captivating and conceptually intriguing project, as well as being hugely evocative of the seventies.

Micky Allan, My trip 1976
pages 1 and 2 from artist's book
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
purchased 2012, © Micky Allan. Licensed by Viscopy

After early schooling in Japan and the United States, Allan trained as a painter at the National Art School in Melbourne. She took up photography in the early seventies as it was a practice that she perceived as having social and community relevance. She started hand-colouring her photographs around 1974, employing her painting skills in her photographic process. She felt this gave her a greater creative range.

Micky Allan has kept moving in life and art and this notion of travel and its documentation is an important and enduring theme that she often explores in her work. Having said that, she has been an important part of the Canberra art scene for over a decade, exhibiting here, teaching at the Canberra School of Art and having a studio at M16 in Griffith. Sadly for us she has just left Canberra, moving in November to rural Victoria.

The publication My trip is the first of many recordings of travels and is based on the intriguing idea that while on the road, anyone who spoke to Allan would then be photographed by her and she then invited them to use her camera to photograph whatever they wished.

She would also record their conversation which often reflected their attitude to photography. Some of the one liners from kids like 'are you a lady?' are hilarious, others a bit scary; it was a brave thing to travel alone in the seventies. This device fitted in perfectly with Allan's belief in art being 'a form of social encounter'. Further, as part of this stategy, My trip was cheaply printed as a broadsheet and sold in newsagents.

In late 2012 Allan generously donated the mock-up for the My trip book to the National Gallery. It had naturally deteriorated over the years but after skilful and careful conservation treatment by Rose Peel in the paper conservation section, it is looking at its best again and forms the basis of a fascinating small display in the Australian Art Galleries.

It is shown together with a delicately handcoloured photograph of a motorcyclist that Allan worked up from an image in the book and copies of the My trip publication.

My Trip will be on display until 7 March 2014 and as part of the Gallery's Australian Art talks, Micky Allan will be discussing it on 6 March as part of International Women's Day celebrations.

Visit Micky Allan's website.

(banner image) Micky Allan
Man on a motorcycle 1976,
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
purchased 2012, © Micky Allan. Licensed by Viscopy

Collection highlights: Trent Parke The Christmas Tree Bucket

Made over a number of years, this series is a candid portrayal of Trent Parke's immediate family – his wife Narelle Autio and sons, Jem and Dash – and his relatives, tied together with a recurring leitmotif of the Christmas get-together. Parke began making images that would be included in The Christmas Tree Bucket: Trent Parke's Family Album in 2006 but the idea for how the images would form a series came to him when he relocated with his family from Sydney to Adelaide in March 2007.

Autio grew up in Adelaide and Parke suddenly found himself surrounded by extended family. It is an open-ended investigation into how the Australian suburban dream plays out; an ambivalent and thoughtful – certainly at times very funny – examination of contemporary life. From real life moments, Parke weaves a fictional narrative inspired by the mythic world of fairy tales. One image shows Parke, ill with food poisoning, lying next to the bucket which has previously held the Christmas tree; the very bucket which inspires the title of the series.

He explains: "It was there – while staring into that bright red bucket, vomiting every hour on the hour for fifteen hours straight – that I started to think how strange families, suburbia, life, vomit and in particular, Christmas really was…"

(image) Trent Parke, Celebrity heads 2008 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2013, © Trent Parke

Displaying a glorious use of light and colour, Parke's images are sophisticated and rich. They show an influence on Parke of the work of the great recorders of the loss of innocence in post-war America, photographers such as William Eggleston, Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand – though Parke's vocabulary and vision is always very much his own.

(image) Trent Parke, Christmas Eve 2007 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2013, © Trent Parke

Parke took up photography in his early teenage years after the sudden death of his mother from an asthma attack, his way of trying to make sense of an unpredictable world.

After a short career as a professional cricketer in his twenties, he has gone on to establish a successful and much awarded career as a visual artist.

He is the only Australian ever to have become a member of Magnum, one of the most prestigious photo agencies in the world. For him photography "is a discovery of life which makes you look at things you've never looked at before. It's about discovering yourself and your place in the world".

The Christmas Tree Bucket: Trent Parke's Family Album is on display in the photography gallery from 20 December 2013 – 23 February 2014.

The gift
of giving

Christmas is fast approaching and the National Gallery of Australia Foundation is looking forward to the festive season. Help us celebrate the end of another wonderful year by donating to the Gallery on behalf of your loved ones.

This year's Members Acquisition Fund is supporting the acquisition of Hilda Rix Nicholas' remarkable painting The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains 1921-22 and offers a wonderful opportunity to make a tangible contribution to the future of the national art collection.

Donations can be made in another's name or in their honour and they will be acknowledged in Artonview magazine and the Foundation Annual Report 2013–14 as supporting this important acquisition.

As the donor, you will be sent a tax-deductible receipt for your donation and a card will be sent to your nominated gift recipient.

(banner image) Hilda Rix Nicholas The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains c.1922 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Members Acquisition Fund 2013-14, © Rix Wright


New South Wales

The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift: Blue Case: Technology | Riverina Regional Library, Wagga NSW, until 12 December 2013

Bodywork: Australian Jewellery 1970–2012 | Glasshouse Gallery, Port Macquarie NSW, until 2 February 2014

(image) Mascha Moje, Ring 1999, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2003


unDisclosed: 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial |
Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns QLD, until 5 January 2014 


Capital and country: the Federation years 1900–1914 | Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat VIC until 19 January 2014

travel package

Peru is a country renowned for its unique cultural encounters, outstanding gastronomic experiences, myriad of vibrant festivals, but most famously for its mystical archaeological riches.

For a limited time only, some of these archaeological treasures will be on display during the National Gallery of Australia's Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru exhibition, in residence from 6 December until 21 April 2014.

(image) Nasca Lines, Ica. Photo: Talia Barreda/PROMPERÚ.

As Peru specialists, Scenic Tours and Chimu Adventures are proud supporters of the exhibition, which showcases the splendour, drama and beauty of the famous Incan empire and its predecessors.

For those who are inspired to see these hidden treasures first hand, Scenic Tours offers a special '12 Day Icons of Peru' tour, including a visit to the Temple of Pachacamac and viewing of the Temple of the Sun God. Departing Lima, travellers will visit the spectacular Sacred Valley of the Incas in Cusco and a local Quechua school.

Scenic Tours also provide expert guides to uncover one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, the 'lost city of the Incas'. Packages start from $7,295 per person and are based on a 25 August 2014 departure.

Chimu Adventures also offers a special 'Peru In Depth' package, a comprehensive tour that starts in Lima then journeys south to the enigmatic Nasca before winding its way into the Andes via the 'white city' of Arequipa and onward to the historic Cusco, the gateway to the ancient Incan Empire Machu Picchu. Packages start from $2,850 per person departing Lima daily.

For more information on Peru, please visit Peru Travel.

(banner image) Machu Picchu, Cusco. Photo:Juan Puelles/PROMPERÚ.


Thank you for supporting the Gallery this past year.

The Gallery staff and I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.

We look forward to seeing you all again in 2014.

Ron Radford AM, Director, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

(image) SICÁN-LAMBAYEQUE culture, North coast 750–1375 AD, Pair of ear ornaments 900–1100 AD, Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Piura, Photograph: Museo Larco