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The Geelong Art Gallery

The Geelong Gallery is considered one of Australia’s finest provincial galleries. It is home to a diverse collection of approximately 4000 pieces of art. Forming a crucial part of the Geelong Arts Precinct along with GPAC and the Courthouse, the Geelong Gallery is built on an annex of the Geelong Town Hall.

Geelong Art Gallery

Financed by a public subscription system and a government grant, the gallery dates back to 1896, with the current building being built in 1913 and officially opened in 1915. Over the years, many expansions and modernisations have been undertaken including 1937, 1958 and 1970. The building was built as a memorial to George M Hitchcock. Hitchcock was a town councillor and member of the Chamber of Commerce. With his brother, he built the William Bright & Co department store that was located on the corner of Moorabool Street and the Little Malop Street Mall. Today, the former Bright & Co building is home to 7/11.

The vast collection includes an impressive collection of 19th, 20th and now 21st century Australian and European paintings, with some beautiful decorative arts including porcelain and pottery from England, lovely colonial silver items from Australia and a wide collection of contemporary Australian art, including a large collection of art from local artists.

There are works by Louis Buvelot, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Rupert Bunny, and E. Phillips Fox. Probably the Geelong Art Galleries’ most famous painting is that of Heidelberg School Artist Frederick McCubbin’s “A Bush Burial”. Painted in 1890 the Geelong Gallery bought the work for 100 guineas in 1900, which was about $210, with guineas being worth 21 shillings. Not a bad investment with the painting being worth millions today. In 1998, McCubbin’s painting “Bush Idyll” fetched over 2 million dollars.

Eugene von Guerard’s “View of Geelong” is another significant and extremely valuable piece of work. The work was purchased from Phantom of the Opera and Cats composer Andrew Lloyd Webber in 2005 for $3.8 million, Lloyd Webber didn’t do too bad out of the deal either, he paid just under $2 million for the work some 8 years earlier. This oil on canvas was painted in 1856 and depicts the beautiful rolling hills of our region, with Corio Bay and the You Yangs in the background.

Geelong Art Gallery

As well as a magnificent permanent exhibition there are many temporary exhibitions during the year, featuring local, Australian and international artists. The Gallery also has been hosting “prize” exhibitions since the late 1930′s where works are acquired and add to the galleries many treasures.

The Geelong Gallery is open daily from 10am to 5pm excluding Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday. Entry to the gallery is free.

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