In Arts + Entertainment

Art After Dark: Australia’s Best Cultural Experiences After 5pm

There's no need to save art and cultural experiences for the weekend: here are a few of the best after-hours art exhibitions across the country.

One of the ironies of travelling for work is that you often see so little of your destination. When you clock off, most of the city does too, and heading to a bar solo isn’t always enjoyable.

Australia’s greatest art institutions are catering to those unable to peruse the galleries before 5pm. In major cities, the options for exploring art outside of standard working hours are plentiful and growing in number. Here’s a selection of the country’s best.


Art After Hours, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Geoff Bull and The Finer Cuts will bring traditional New Orleans style jazz to the AGNSW. Photo: AGNSW

Kicking off on July 5, Art After Hours boasts a series of artist talks, and live music, gallery tours and workshops at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Wednesday nights in July until 10pm. Upcoming events include a guided tour of the O’Keefe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism exhibition on July 19, and a screening of The Picture Of Dorian Gray as part of the straight-laced and scandalous film series. Do it all with a glass of wine in hand. Some events are ticketed. Click here for more information.

MCA Art Bar

ARTBAR: Curated by Huseyin Sami, Museum of Contemporary Australia, May 2016. Image courtesy and © the artists and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Photograph: Anna Kucera/MCA

Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art transforms into a thriving, interactive space on the last Friday of each month. MCA ARTBAR is curated by a different artist each month, which makes for multidisciplinary and diverse offerings throughout the year. On Friday July 28, artist Claudia Nicholson is taking the reins, turning Friday night at the gallery into a piece of performance art. For tickets, click here.

Melbourne (or Victoria)

Gertrude Street Projection Festival

The Gertrude Street Projection Festival Photo: Chris Cohen/GSPF Facebook

Gertrude Street Projection Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, so you can expect its most exciting and diverse program yet. As Melbourne’s most visible large-scale arts festival, GSPF brings people to Fitzroy to see 38 sites illuminated by the site-specific works of the city’s most talented projections artists. For 10 nights in July, Gertrude Street is awash with colour, light and serious foot traffic. The festival opens on Friday July 21.


Art After Dark presented by Jam Factory

STEEL: Art Architecture Design at Jam Factory. Photo: Jam Factory/Facebook

Thursdays in Adelaide are revamped in 2017 with Jam Factory’s Art After Dark program. On selected Thursdays throughout the year, Adelaide’s famous West End Precinct comes alive with exhibitions, film, music, talks, food, beer, wine and workshops. Upcoming events include the SALA (South Australian Living Artists Festival) Edition on Thursday August 3, and the Film Festival + Oz Asia edition on Thursday October 19. Presented by Jam Factory.


Up Late During Marvel, Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art

Rodney Fuentebella / Keyframe for Captain America: Civil War 2016 / © 2017 Photo: MARVEL

Comic book fans – this one’s for you. Queensland’s Art Gallery of Modern Art just opened the biggest Marvel exhibition ever, and it’s open after hours. On Fridays from 5:30-10pm, explore the exhibition and the Up Late bars, listen to live music and hear from local makers in the All in the Details series.

The next event is July 28, when Art vs. Science will take to the stage. Following gigs include Black Cab on August 4, Habits on August 11, Olympia on August 18, Models on August 25 and No Zu on September 1.

World Press Photo Exhibition, Brisbane Powerhouse

Francis Pérez, Caretta Caretta Trapped. Photo: Brisbane Powerhouse

Pay witness to the world’s most compelling moments from the last 12 months, captured by award-winning photojournalists around the globe. The Brisbane Powerhouse stays open until 9pm Tuesday through Sunday, making it an ideal spot for a post-work jaunt. The World Press Photo Exhibition is free.


Art After Hours, National Gallery Australia

Mervyn Bishop Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into hand of traditional landowner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory 1975, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Photo: National Gallery of Australia

Join the National Gallery of Australia for its art after hours program on August 24, where curator Tina Baum will lead a guided tour of the Defying Empire exhibition. Baum is the curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the NGA, and has pulled together a collection of works from 30 contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across the country for this special triennial exhibition. Book tickets here.

(Lead image: Pete Thompson Dark Dimension no.3 / Keyframes for Doctor Strange 2016  © 2017 MARVEL)

Published 04 July, 2017