The Top End is full of amazing art collections, whether you’re keen on Indigenous wood carvings or the history of the local Chinese population.
If you’re spending time in the Northern territory, try to dedicate some of it to visiting one or more of these excellent NT art galleries.
The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Darwin NT
Since being rebuilt in 1981 at Bullocky Point, MAGNT has become a large and varied cultural centre, operating six NT art galleries. With 30,000 art and material culture items in its collection, as well as 1.2 million natural history specimens, MAGNT is full to bursting. Exhibitions feature rock art, maritime history, Indigenous art, other Australian art, palaeontology and much more.
Maruku Arts, Petermann (Uluru) NT
Owned and operated by Anangu artists, this gallery/art collective strives to strengthen Anangu culture through paintings and punu (wooden carvings). Maruku Arts has a gallery and retail space in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Additionally, they host tours, demonstrations and workshops outside of the space, including a dot-painting workshop taught by an Anangu artist.
Paul Arnold Gallery, Darwin NT
Paul Arnold travels all over the Australian outback taking breathtaking photos that tell stories of his adventures. He pulls inspiration from the lovely colours and scenery of the bush. Within his gallery you can find incredible landscapes, including bird’s-eye-view shots taken while hanging out the side of an aeroplane. The Paul Arnold Gallery is open seven days a week, and Paul is happy to talk about his photographs and their incredible background stories.
Yubu Napa Gallery and Studio, Alice Springs NT
Yubu Napa is a Bulgul phrase, meaning both ‘beautiful’ and ‘to do the right thing’. As they marvel at gorgeous paintings by Indigenous artists, visitors can interact with the artists themselves in the studio. Yubu Napa Gallery provides a valuable cultural experience for people to learn more about authentic Indigenous art. This gallery supports the artists and gives visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the creative process.
NT Chinese Museum, Darwin NT
In 1874, the first Chinese labourers arrived in Darwin. In just a few years’ time, they had become the largest non-Indigenous group in the Top End. The NT Chinese Museum honours this history and contributions of these pioneers with photographs, artefacts, family history and art. The museum also focuses on the impact of World War II and the bombing of Darwin, making it an important addition to the other NT art galleries.
Arlpwe Arts and Culture Centre, Ali Curung NT
Around 350 kilometres north of Alice Springs, sits the Arlpwe Arts and Culture Centre. The Centre is made up of a gallery, two art centres and a pottery studio. Here, local artists can create, share their art and keep the region’s culture alive for generations to come. The gallery features paintings, clap sticks, boomerangs and other artefacts. Although the gallery and studio spaces are separate, there are opportunities to watch and interact with artists as they work.
Injalak Arts, Arnhem Land NT
Nestled in the small community of Gunbalanya, this arts centre is home to more than 200 artists of Kunwinjku, Mengerrdji and Erre descent. Injalak Arts also gives stunning tours of ancient rock art galleries. For a truly immersive experience, visitors can even view sandstone that’s been painted over for thousands of years at Injalak Hill.
Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs NT
Since its opening in 1984, the Araluen Arts Centre in Alice Springs has been dedicated to artistic achievement and experimentation. This arts centre has collections of Indigenous, other Australian and wearable art, as well as performances and film screenings. Built around a 300-year-old corkwood tree, the arts centre is the heart of the Araluen Cultural Precinct, which includes a number of Arrernte sacred sites, public artworks and other arts buildings.
Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Alice Springs NT
With the support of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, Tjanpi Desert Weavers is able to support more than 400 female artists. These talented artisans come from 26 remote communities, working together to operate a gallery, host workshops and promote their work. Through Tjanpi Desert Weavers, artists can continue the tradition of basket weaving, using natural fibres to make art. The artworks are available for purchase in the gallery and online, allowing these women to financially support themselves.
Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre, Katherine NT
This arts centre promotes the cultural diversity of the Katherine region by honouring Indigenous art and storytelling. The Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre has multiple galleries that showcase Indigenous art from the surrounding area, highlighting local artists. Guided by their ‘two way’ learning philosophy, the centre strives to tell cultural stories from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.
Maningrida Arts & Culture, Arnhem Land NT
Maningrida Arts & Culture focuses on supporting the traditional art movement among contemporary Indigenous artists. Therefore, the gallery puts a strong emphasis on ancestral connections to country, culture and belief systems. Featuring a wide range of bark paintings, weavings and musical instruments, the gallery maintains deep connection with traditions that have lasted thousands of years.
For more on Indigenous art, check out the best places around Australia to find Indigenous rock art.