Art Gallery of Western Australia
AGWA, Perth: History, Permanent Collection Highlights.

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Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) Perth


Permanent Collection
Opening Times
Contact Details
Most Ancient Indigenous Art of Australia

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The Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) is the main arts venue in the west of the country. Founded in 1895, it is located in the Perth Cultural Centre, close to the State Library of Western Australia. Its permanent collection consists of around 17,000 works of art in all media, including painting and sculpture, various types of drawing, prints, fine art photography, multi-media installation art, design and crafts. It includes in-depth holdings of Aboriginal art, works by Australian artists, and contemporary art from around the world. The gallery attracts around 400,000 visitors per year and is considered to be one of the best art museums in Australia. In addition to its permanent collection, AGWA also hosts a program of temporary exhibitions and supports local arts venues such as the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery. Other important art centres in Australia include: the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane), the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), the Art Gallery of South Australia (Adelaide), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney) and the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra).

Note: Western Australia is home to some of the most ancient indigenous art ever discovered, such as the Burrup Rock Art in the Pilbara, the Bradshaw Paintings and other Kimberley Rock Art from the northern plateau of the state.


Established in 1895, the AGWA's first home was Perth's Jubilee Building, which housed the State Museum and Library. The gallery's present building - designed by architect Charles Sierakowski with a concrete-slab Brutalist exterior, following the Bauhaus method - opened in 1979. Inspired by Mexico City's Museum of Anthropology, its central features include a cast concrete spiral staircase and wide vistas between its nine galleries. The new gallery reflected the growing importance placed on cultural institutions by Western Australia state authorities in the run-up to the 150th anniversary of federation in 1979.


Permanent Collection

AGWA's permanent collection has more than 17,000 items and encompasses the following areas: (1) traditional Aboriginal art and contemporary works by Indigenous artists. (2) a range of significant pre-1900 Australian watercolour painting and oil painting, including, for instance, works by exponents of Australian Impressionism, sometimes referred to as the Heidelberg School (c.1886-1900). (3) Modern art (c.1900-1970) by British and Australian artists. (4) Postmodernist art (c.1970-present) by Australian and international artists. (5) A diverse range of decorative art and crafts.

Highlights of the Collection

Here is a short selection of the many masterpieces on show at AGWA.

Adam (Bronze sculpture) (1870-74) by Auguste Rodin
Down on His Luck (1889) by Fred McCubbin
The Hillside (1895) by Arthur Streeton
Sydney Harbour (1907) by Arthur Streeton
Eucalyptus (1928) by Margaret Preston
On the Swan, Crawley (1938) by Elise Margo Blumann
Boy with Lizard (1955) by Russell Drysdale
The Disguise (1955) by Sidney Nolan
The Gatekeeper's Wife (1965) by Russell Drysdale
Desert Storm (Multi-panel painting) (1966) by Sidney Nolan
Blue Variable No. 1 (1966) by Ian Burn
Naked Man with Rat (1978) by Lucian Freud
Kimberley Landscape (1984) by Paddy Jaminji
Arlatyite Dreaming (1995) by Emily Kam Kngwarreye


The Art Gallery of Western Australia operates a program of temporary exhibitions, outreach events and regular annual shows. Important exhibitions at the gallery in recent years have included the following.

2014: Richard Avedon: People - the art of black/white portrait photography
2014: Guy Grey-Smith: Art As Life - WA landscape painter
2014: William Kentridge - The Refusal of Time
2013: Van Gogh, Dali and Beyond: The World Reimagined - 20 century art
2013: Made to Remember - Indigenous Art
2013: Picturing New York: Photographs from MOMA - Alfred Stieglitz, plus Cartier-Bresson, Helen Levitt, Walker Evans, Lewis Hine, Cindy Sherman.
2012: Vast: North-West landscapes - Russell Drysdale, Guy Grey-Smith, Robert Juniper, Sidney Nolan and many others.
2012: Photographs by Jeff Wall - Pioneer of contemporary camera art
2012: Picasso to Warhol: 100 masterpieces by fourteen modern masters

AGWA also stages regular annual art exhibitions, such as the "Tom Malone Prize" for contemporary glass and the "Indigenous Art Awards" for artists from the Northern Territory and Western Australia, as well as an annual exhibition entitled "Year 12 Perspectives", featuring works from Western Australian Art and Design students, in a variety of media.

Opening Times

Open: 10am–5pm Wednesday - Mondays.
Closed: Tuesdays, as well as Christmas Day, Good Friday and ANZAC Day.

Contact Details

Art Gallery of Western Australia
Perth Cultural Centre
Perth WA 6000
Reception: +61 8 9492 6600
Information Line: +61 8 9492 6622

Postal Address
PO Box 8363
Perth Business Centre
Perth WA 6849

Most Ancient Indigenous Art of Australia

Ubirr Rock Art (30,000 BCE)
Stone engravings and paintings
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory.

Nawarla Gabarnmang Charcoal Drawing (26,000 BCE)
Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.
Oldest art in Australia to be carbon-dated.

Koonalda Cave Art (18,000 BCE)
Finger-fluting and hand prints on cave ceiling
Nullarbor Plain, South Australia.


• For more about painting & sculpture in Western Australia, see: Homepage.

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