Guides

Arts and Culture in Hobart

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Tasmania's lively capital has plenty of artistic and cultural distractions which have a real influence on everyday life, from the many community-run youth arts projects to the thriving live music scene. And if you’re after first-rate museums, galleries, and historic landmarks, Hobart has them in abundance.

 

Art galleries

 

Hobart takes its art seriously, and while its galleries showcase a strong attraction to cool contemporary works, they’re not afraid to acknowledge local heritage and display dozens of historical selections too.

 

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

 

Situated beside the shimmering waterfront, this museum and gallery dates back to 1843, established by Tasmania’s Royal Society. There’s a decorative arts section, full of intricately detailed woodwork, delicate ceramics, and hand-woven textiles - all from the colonial era. Meanwhile, the Henry Hunter gallery, with walls covered in fine paintings, takes you on a timeline through Tasmania’s artistic heritage.

 

Dunn Place, Hobart, TAS 7000. Tel: +61 3 6165 7000

 

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery website

 

Museum of Old and New Art

 

As its name suggests, this gallery - known as MONA - exhibits both historic and contemporary work. The architecturally sleek building, whose unassuming single-story exterior leads to vast underground showrooms, is the perfect introduction to the inspiring work within. You’ll need at least a few hours to really get a sense of this gallery - but you’re sure to be bewildered with contemporary masterpieces like Sydney Nolan’s Snake - an immense mural of over 1,000 paintings.

 

655 Main Road, Berriedale TAS 7011. Tel: +61 3 6277 9900

 

Museum of Old and New Art website

 

Museums

 

While the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery offers the city’s most all-inclusive museum experience - ranging from natural history to artwork – you can push the boat out a little and visit this niche and locally-loved museum afterwards.
Maritime Museum of Tasmania

 

Just down the street from the Tasmanian Museum, this is a treasure trove of exhibits dedicated to Tasmania’s intriguing association with the sea. You can lay your eyes on recovered shipwreck debris, archaic whaling harpoons, and over 100,000 photographs and paintings illustrating colonial trade vessels, whaleboats, and warships.

 

16 Argyle Street, Hobart, TAS 7000. Tel: +61 3 6234 1427

 

Maritime Museum of Tasmania website

 

Churches

 

Although Hobart has a young and modern vibe, the city has maintained an impressive array of historical - now National Trust-listed - churches and chapels.

 

Penitentiary Chapel

 

Have you ever seen a prison inside a church before? Welcome to the Penitentiary Chapel, once known as the Tench by inmates. Of course, there are no inmates nowadays, but back in the 1840s it housed convicts of the New Tasmanian Colony. There were criminal courts and a gallows onsite, too. Today, take a guided tour of the building from a local expert - for the brave, there are also late-night lamp-lit ghost tours.

 

Cnr Campbell Street & Brisbane Street, Hobart TAS 7000. Tel: +61 3 6231 0911

 

Penitentiary Chapel website

 

Historic landmarks

 

From its Royal Theatre to the green-washed botanical gardens, the history of Hobart can be seen in the landscape itself. A good tip is to check out the concentration of old world historical houses in Battery Point, an area that's a landmark in its own right.

 

Battery Point

 

Explore this neighborhood on foot and feel transported to a bygone century. Almost all of the houses retain their Colonial, Georgian, and Victorian architecture - with adjoining rose-rich gardens - giving the streets an air of historic authenticity. Amble to Arthur’s Circus, the quaint, flower-stippled village green, and stop in at the Narryna Heritage Museum - based in a gorgeous Greek-revival townhouse.

 

Battery Point, TAS 7004

 

Battery Point website