National Gallery of Victoria: Degas

After quite an intense semester (to say the least) I was ready for a short vacation. The next three days in Melbourne will be packed with visiting exhibitions and seeing my supervisor again at Geoffrey Kaye! I am also excited to experience a few days of very cold weather and heated museums.

The first exhibition I visited was completely unplanned. I love pre-booking tickets online because it usually means skipping queues! With Degas, however, I decided to go very last minute. I knew very little about the artist except that he painted some ballet scenes. Since I was in the area I thought I might as well have a walk through and see his other work. I also have a soft spot for the NGV. I have yet to see an exhibition there that has been disappointing.


So, I walked in with no idea what to expect. The two things that really stayed with me after I walked out of the exhibition were how beautiful the art was and the exhibition narrative. Essentially it was a mix of chronology (from his first works to last) and themes (ballet scenes, brothel scenes, etc). Each section was separated by a different pastel colour so it was quite easy to navigate the space. On top of this, each section also offered visitors different paths to take. This meant I rarely found myself bumping into others. I should note it was incredibly busy.

Ballet Fan Painting

Crowds at the thematic panels, however, were a bit of an issue. I saw a few people taking photos of the signs and stepping away to read them without being crushed.

The hanging artwork had no labels on the wall meaning it didn’t look too cluttered. Instead, the labels were located beneath each picture. I did strain my neck a bit to read them. Not to mention the kids labels were only marginally shorter!! In saying this, the content on the labels was well worth reading. It was in plain English and contained some very interesting information.


The sculptures were beautifully organised. I quite liked the sculpture display cases. Especially in one room (pictured below) where there were a few.


I have to confess that I didn’t really read the thematic panels in too much depth. I felt as though if you were a massive fan they would be interesting but there was so much information. I just enjoyed walking around and reading the specific painting/sculpture/drawing/etc label if it caught my attention. This allowed me to see snapshots of information without feeling too overwhelmed. It was also fun to read the kids labels. Some of them made me look a little bit closer at the object.

Overall, it was a traditional art gallery show. Don’t go expecting what was at Warhol and Wei Wei. Whilst I do love a good interactive show I can appreciate what this exhibition was trying to achieve. The space was relaxing and the art was well presented. It worked well as a place for people to go through quickly or for people to stop and see in depth.

Stay tuned for my next post on 200 Years of Asutralian Fashion!!

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