I have visited the National Gallery of Australia on several occasions. Tagging along after a volunteer guide, carrying my stool, as a sullen high school student; as a young university student with boyfriend, and late last year to celebrate my tenth anniversary with my husband (yes, the same boyfriend). The National Gallery rocks.
You cannot get bored at the gallery. You can spend minutes staring at Jackson Pollock's "Blue Poles", for example. I was upset that I could not find the square block of black painting that mesmerised me as a teenager. I tell you, there were shapes in that seeming simple block of black. I am not being facetious here.
Highlights of my recent visit with hubby were the colonial art, and the brilliant photographic exhibition tucked away at the back by an Australian woman, Carol Jerrems. There is a lot of post-modernism and pop art that can be a little tiresome. However the Aboriginal art is compulsory.
The gallery is large enough that you can look over everything thoroughly in several visits, or flit through and see everything that catches your eye in one. There is also a delightful sculpture garden between the gallery and Lake Burley Griffin. Facing out to the gardens and onto a pond with disconcerting heads poking up out of it (purposely so to bring about an emotional response to a massacre that occurred in Indonesia), is the restaurant.
Fittingly, the gardens are native and are designed around a four seasons theme, although I couldn't pick it. The kids are free to roam, but not touch or climb on the sculptures. The experience was stimulating for the KTNM, who don't really need any more stimulation - but what the heck, it is art. The native gardens are a superb example of how attractive and sustainable an Australian native garden can be. The resident flocks of blue wrens have to be seen to be believed. I also saw several groups picnicking on the lawns, which is an idea I have tucked away for future reference.
Do visit the NGA.
PS - Toulouse-Lautrec has just arrived and OMG Turner is coming in 2013!!!