Within Federation Square is the Australian art branch of the National Gallery of Victoria (or NGV for short) and contains some of the best known works in the NGV collection.
Less known than the NGV’s main building on St. Kilda Road, thanks to the state government’s traditional policy of keeping entry free, it might be worth stopping by if you’re already nearby (maybe visiting ACMI) with your kids.
The highlight (in my opinion) is the collection of Australian impressionists – especially the likes of Tom Roberts or Arthur Streeton. However, there’s a great range of Australian artwork – if you’re Australian you’ve probably seen images of many of the pictures here.
I thought my kids might enjoy – or at least appreciate – a chance to see such iconic pieces up close but they didn’t. However, there were still a few things they did like.
My 6 yo son is interested in Aboriginal culture and he liked looking at the Aboriginal art. The Ian Potter Centre has a small but good collection of traditional Aboriginal art. Sadly, there are few public collections around.
Both my older kids liked some of the more modern and contemporary art on display.
All up, we spent an hour here pretty easily before the kids started getting a bit bored and restless.
If there was a downside, there was several art pieces that were just in the middle of the room or something with nothing but a thin white line to mark out an area people couldn’t go. Not even a sign. It was a bit annoying for the kids to get warned for touching stuff when it looks almost like Dali-esque play equipment in the middle of the room. So not toddler friendly.
The Ian Potter Centre is open from 10am to 5pm every day except for a few public holidays. Entry is free except for the headline temporary exhibits. Visit https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/visit/ for more information.
Kid Friendly: Somewhat, but mainly for older kids (at least 5). Otherwise, unless they’re in a pram, younger kids – especially toddlers – probably should stay away.
Pram/Stroller access: Good: there’s lifts and ramps to get you round. No place you can’t reach.
Change Tables: No, not that we found. There are at least several large, clean, mobility impaired toilets that let you wheel a pram in and give you space to change a nappy if nature strikes.
Getting to the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
The NGV Ian Potter Centre is in the Northeast most building of Federation Square (the one nearest Russell Street) on Flinders Street between Swanston and Russell streets. It’s (almost) as central as it gets. To get there by train take any train to Flinders Street Station (every line goes through there). Trams #70 and #75 which go along Flinders Street stop close by. Trams #1, #3, #5, #6, #16, #64, #67 and #72 all stop at Federation Square. For all those trams, Federation Square is close to the middle of the route so take those trams into the city.
Federation Square has some parking if you want to drive there. However, like all the CBD parking, it is expensive during the week and spaces limited unless you get there early.