The Must-See Exhibitions of 2016

With the New Year on the horizon, there’s no better time to go high culture. We’ve rounded up the most stylish exhibitions of 2016 that you won’t want to miss, from Frida Kahlo to Ai Weiwei.

With this list, you’ll be well-armed for every dinner party conversation (and visually inspired) the whole year through.

Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced

The Powerhouse Museum, NSW, 5 September 2015 – 28 August 2016.

If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to catch Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced in the new year for a unique look into some of her most famous designs.

Tatsuo Miyajima

Museum of Contemporary Art, NSW, 1 November 2015- 31 March 2017

The MCA have made sure that 2016 is their year to exhibit heavy-hitters of the art world, and their newest announcement doesn’t disappoint. Acclaimed Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima will display his famed technologically-based sculptures and installations from throughout his career, including his experimentation with LEDs artworks from the 1980s. His bright and colourful light displays are a favourite, and an experience not to be missed. More details including ticket pricing to come.

Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox present Marilyn Monroe

Bendigo Art Gallery, VIC, 5 March – 10 July 2016.

Marilyn Monroe’s classic beauty has rarely been showcased as extensively as this. With more than 20 original film costumes from some of her greatest hits on show, includng Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to How To Marry a Millionaire, as well as personal clothing and exclusive photos, you will get an unparalleled insight into this elusive bombshell.

200 Years of Australian Fashion

National Gallery of Victoria, VIC, 5 March 2016 – 31 July 2016.

With VAMFF done and dusted, Melbournians can continue to get their fashion fix at the NGV with a new mammoth collection of Australian fashion – the first curation of its kind. An unprecedented offering of homegrown sartorial talent, it includes over 120 works by ninety designers, from early Victorian dressmaking to today’s global fashion houses. Our pick? Dion Lee’s Swarovski crystal-encrusted gown which, at four metres tall, is a suitably extravagant addition to this landmark exhibition.

Whistler’s Mother

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NGV International, VIC, 26 March – 19 June 2016.

This will be Australia’s Mona Lisa moment, so get ready for the crowds. One of the most iconic portraits in the world, Whistler’s Mother has been borrowed from the prestigious Musée d’Orsay in Paris for a few short months. On top of this, the NGV has produced a short film and charted the work’s popularity to accompany the exhibition, so you can have all the background knowledge you need when you bring it up at the next cocktail party.

Henry Talbot: 1960s Fashion Photographer

Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria at Federation Square, VIC, 7 May 2016 – August 2016.

When we think of 60s fashion, our minds always go to swinging London. But back home, we were breaking new ground too – particularly when fashion photographer Henry Talbot entered the scene. His photographs are being exhibited for the first time in a new exhibition at the NGV, carefully curated from the 35 000 negatives he gifted the gallery in the 80s. Particularly, Talbot’s work with Helmut Newtown straight from their Flinders Street studio is a must-see. With images shot everywhere from Melbourne laneways to an outback sheep station, this exhibition gives a unique insight into 60s fashion in Australia.

Isabella Blow: A Fashionable Life

Powerhouse Museum, NSW, 14 May 2016 – 28 August 2016.

Not many have wardrobes that include the iconic names of Alexander McQueen, Phillip Treacy, Julian McDonald, Manolo Blahnik, John Galliano, Jeremy Scott and Viktor & Rolf (just to name a few), but one woman did. The enviable style of cult fashion designer and editor Isabella Blow will be making its way to Australia in May, showcasing over 100 bespoke looks from her collection. Not only did she nurture the careers of many key designers, models and photographers up until her death in 2007, she is also credited with discovering models Stella Tennant and Sophie Dahl as well as Alexander McQueen. With an eye for talent like that, we’re sure this exhibition of her collection will be just as incredible.

Rebecca Baumann

Art Gallery of Western Australia, WA, 28 May – 22 August 2016

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Let’s be honest, Rebecca Baumann’s bold and bright works are some of the most Instagrammable around. If you’ve seen her incredibly popular installation ‘Automated Colour’ at Sydney’s MCA, you’ll know what to expect when the Art Gallery of Western Australia brings her installation to its WA Focus festival. From confetti explosions, party streamers and disco balls, her interrogation of colour and emotion should definitely be added to the calendar.

Cindy Sherman

GOMA, QLD, 28 May – 25 September 2016.

Cindy Sherman is a cult figure within the art world, having emerged from the rough and tumble streets of New York in the 70s. In this exhibition, the first of its kind in Australia, her chameleonic qualities have never been so prominent. Particularly focusing on her collaborations with leading fashion houses Balenciaga and Chanel, a visit to the GOMA is a must for every fashion girl in 2016.



Art Gallery of NSW, 28 May – 13 November 2016.

This is Cate Blanchett like you’ve never seen her before. Taking part in a dramatic new video installation by renowned German artist Julian Rosefeldt, Blanchett will be bringing some of the most provocative artworks and writings of the modern era to life.

Degas: A New Vision

NGV International Ground Level, VIC, 24 June – 18 September 2016

He is the face of French impressionism, using the classic Paris we all know and love as the focus of his works. From the racecourse to the boudoir, 200 works by Degas will be on display in this sweeping exhibition. This will be one of the most visited art exhibitions of the year.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Art Gallery of NSW, NSW, 25 June – 9 October 2016

Very rarely do you get to see renowned artworks on display, but in 2016 you can. Presenting Frida Kahlo in all her self-portrait glory, as well Diego Rivera’s canvas paintings, their extraordinary relationship will be the unmissable art event of the year.

Field of Mars

Anna Schwartz Gallery, VIC, 27 July – 27 August 2016

The major solo exhibition by New York based artist Jessica Rankin is making its way down under, presenting works based on embroideries, collages and paper. The poetic works are inspired by landscapes she observed on her last trip to Australia in 2014, exploring our personal relationships with the environment. This is a seminal work from the artist not to be missed.

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Toni Maticevski: Dark Wonderland

Bendigo Art Gallery, VIC, 13 August 2016 – 20 November 2016

A retrospective exhibition of Toni Maticevski’s work is making its way to Bendigo this August, providing a glimpse into the designer’s personal archive. The collection, drawing on Maticevski’s twenty years in the industry, mines some of his earliest and most recent work, while presenting his influences, inspirations and recurrent artistic themes. His costumes in collaboration with Phillip Adams Ballet Lab, the Australian Ballet and Sydney Dance Company will also be on display, ensuring that a trip to Bendigo is a must to see this icon of Australian fashion.

Victor&Rolf: Fashion Artists

National Gallery of Victoria, VIC, 16 October 2016 – 17 February 2017

This summer, a world-first is coming to Melbourne.The spectacular and avant-garde creations of Victor&Rolf will be exhibited at the NGV, with 35 pieces highlighting their rebellious approach to the fashion world.The highlight? Their work-in-progress ‘Dolls’, which show replicas of antique dolls in their designer looks. With the key moments of their twenty-year career on display, this is not an exhibition to be missed.

Masterworks From MoMa

National Gallery of Victoria, VIC, 8 June 2018 – 7 October 2018

Rarely do such an incredible amount of landmark works make it to our shores, yet that’s exactly what is happening in 2018. The NGV have announced a major exhibition of modern and contemporary art from New York’s iconic Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), including over 150 pieces from a veritable who’s who of master artists. The dream list of those to be displayed include Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, Jeff Koons, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Lyubov Popova, Mark Rothko, Paul Cézanne, Marcel Duchamp, Edward Hopper and Piet Mondrian. Spanning 130 years of art history, and featuring some works never before seen in Australia, this will be an unmissable event.