Australia's oldest and largest public gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria known as NGV, was established in 1861 and occupies two sites: NGV International in South Melbourne, and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in Federation Square. Within the two locations are over 66,000 works across the mediums of painting, sculpture, antiquity, paper works, photography, decorative arts, furniture, fashion textiles and multimedia.
The NGV International building was completed in 1968 and closed for a four-year, $168 million makeover reopening in 2003. The massive four-storey edifice is constructed of bluestone and concrete with a moat circling the ground floor. The entrance to the gallery is via an arch off St Kilda Road and around the 'Waterwall' feature. The gallery itself is dedicated to art collections from Europe, Asia, America and Oceania including European masters and contemporary acquisitions. The ground floor displays temporary exhibitions with artworks from China, Southeast Asia and Japan on the first floor as well as 14th to 16th century art and design. The mezzanine houses 16th to 17th century art and design, which extends up to the 20th century on level two plus a room dedicated to fashion and textiles. Modern artworks and contemporary pieces from Oceania round out the collection on level 3.
Highlights of the extensive collection include works by Auguste Rodin, Thomas Gainsborough, Man Ray, El Greco, Picasso and Andy Warhol as well as antiquities from Egypt, Chinese landscapes, exquisite fashion and bronzes. NGV International is renowned for hosting big-name international exhibitions with recent showings for 'The Neo-Impressionists', 'Dior and Yamamoto' and 'European Masters' to name a few. A daily schedule of free tours, talks and film screenings further enhance the gallery experience.
Admission to the gallery is free although some special exhibitions may attract a fee. To visit NGV International, take trams 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 16, 64, 67 and 72 and alight at the Arts Precinct stop in Southbank, which stops directly outside.