From our ancient Indigenous past and colonial history to the modern multicultural country of today, our nation’s capital holds and shares the essence of Australia.
Hear Australian stories
Discover the place where our stories live at the National Museum of Australia. Located on the tip of the Acton Peninsula by the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, the Museum explores our history and culture including Indigenous history, landscape, people and the journeys that connect Australia with the world. See the nation’s most popular and important objects – from Phar Lap’s heart and the Holden Prototype No.1 to bark paintings and ochre used by Aboriginal artists more than 50,000 years ago in the Gallery of First Australians.
Wander through the Treasures Gallery at the National Library of Australia and see the beautiful, rare and unexpected gems from the Library’s extraordinary collection. See Captain James Cook’s Endeavour journal, an original manuscript of Waltzing Matilda and the landmark papers of Eddie Mabo. Visitors can access a vast collection of books, serials, manuscripts, photographs, music, oral histories, digital items and more.
Enjoy Australian art
Visit the home of Australia’s National Art Collection, the National Gallery of Australia, which has more than 165,000 works and includes Australia’s largest collection of Indigenous Australian artwork. A great selection of the collection is on display, including famous artworks like Monet’s Nympheas (Waterlillies), John Olsen’s Sydney sun and Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series. Wander through world-class exhibitions and the impressive Sculpture Garden set on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin.
See Australia in film, music, TV, costumes and more at the National Film and Sound Archive. Watch your favourite Aussie films, giggle at cheesy TV commercials, reminisce about how we listened to music before iPods and remember the heroes of Australian TV dramas. Delve into the national audiovisual collection of nearly two million items in free presentations, exhibitions and family activities.
Come face to face with the famous, the infamous and the sometimes forgotten icons of Australian history, from the distant past to the absolute present at the National Portrait Gallery. Photography is strongly represented and there are some highly emotive works, including Benjamin Law’s 1830s plaster busts of Aboriginal leaders Trucaninny and Woureddy. Gallery spaces host vibrant exhibitions, lectures, education programs and events as well as interactive Portrait Story tours.
Discover Australian history
Visit the Australian War Memorial and connect with the stories of people and events that have shaped our nation. See some of the world’s most significant military relics, such as the Lancaster bomber G for George, and experience Over the front: the great war in the air, a film by renowned director Sir Peter Jackson at this shrine and an expansive museum. Place a poppy on the Roll of Honour to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by Australian servicemen and women and stay for the moving Last Post closing ceremony.
Experience, celebrate and be inspired by the spirit of democracy through the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House’s collections, events, exhibitions and special programs. See personal mementos and defining moments of each of the Prime Ministers of Australia, take free guided tours of the gracious 1920s architectural gem or take on Cabinet-in-Confidence and sit at the actual Cabinet Table used by governments from 1973 to 1988.
Gaze onto the factory floor of the Royal Australian Mint to see how Australia’s coins are made (the Mint has the capacity to produce two million coins a day) and watch one of the world’s strongest robots in action. You can also see early, rare and historically significant coins on show from the National Coin Collection and even press your own coin.
Appreciate Australian architecture
Explore one of the world’s most architecturally acclaimed buildings, Parliament House, where the decisions affecting the nation are made. This extraordinary building on Capital Hill offers much to explore and enjoy; take a lift up to the roof of the building for panoramic views of Canberra, join a tour of the beautifully landscaped gardens, and enjoy the renowned collection of Australian contemporary art.
See Australia's highest court of appeal in a striking building that features a seven-storey high public hall. When the High Court of Australia is in session, visitors can observe from the public gallery if seating is available. Guides are on hand to give tailored tours explaining court procedures, the building’s architecture and special design features. The Brutalist style of the building, which was designed by Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Briggs and opened in 1980, is one for the architecture buffs.
Visit the beautiful heritage building that was Canberra’s original General Post Office and discover the secrets and events that helped shape our nation. The National Archives of Australia houses significant holdings of photographs, maps, films, play scripts, musical scores and sound recordings including Australia’s ‘birth certificate’ - Queen Victoria’s Royal Commission of Assent. The collection of millions of items covers records about immigration, the military, Indigenous Australians, science and more.
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