From street art, to top exhibitions, to those wee gallery openings with the free wine, there's plenty to absorb for nothing
Swot up on art
You can kill hours by wandering around art galleries within easy trotting distance of one another
The Ian Potter Centre is permanent home to the NGV Collection – almost 25,000 works of Australian art in every imaginable medium – but also the Joseph Brown Collection and the Indigenous Collection (both until Dec 2015).
Fancy embarking on a whole mission of discovery? Check out one of the city’s art strips with free galleries you can meander in and out of, like the Collingwood Arts Precinct, or South Yarra’s Toorak Road area, which boasts Tusk, Mossgreen, Nellie Castan, Artiq, Gould and more.
If you bypass the major exhibitions at the NGV International, you can enjoy timely freebies like Confounding: Contemporary Photography – a sinister collection of dreams and imaginings (until Mar 24), and RALLY: Contemporary Indonesian Art, in which two young artists educate us on what’s hot in Southeast Asia (until Apr 1).
Take to the streets
Art doesn’t come much freer than street murals – and while beauty is in the eye of beholder, we’re very taken by these hot spots
PEDESTRIAN WALKWAY ADJACENT TO 82 COLLINS STREET
‘Melbourne: Two Worlds’ is a fusion of the Wurundjeri community’s traditional culture and a modern cityscape.
COCKER ALLEY BEHIND THE NICHOLAS BUILDING
‘Neon Natives’ is an illuminated panel of Australian animals that symbolise the Kamilaroi people, by artist Reko Rennie.
Picture frames (out of reach of prying paws) adorn the walls of this hidden brickwork laneway near the Block Arcade.
The original home of the famous St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Caledonian Lane plays host to a mish-mash of graff styles.
A massive 36m x 3m mural of strange beasts by Japanese artist TwoOne dominates. When you’re done gawking, slip into gallery House of Bricks at #40 for a further dose of art.
Former Lord Mayor John So christened this lane with: “There is a highway to hell, but this is a laneway to heaven. Let us rock.” Nearby Duckboard Place has further weirdness.
Where to find gallery openings... and snacks
Fancy yourself a bit of a culture hound? How about a boozehound?
Combine your passions and you have yourself a gallery opening. Don’t be turned off by the mistaken belief these are only for people who can afford the art on the walls: opening-night exhibition parties are also for those who decorate the gallery with their cutting-edge cool. That means you, with a free glass of cheap bubbles in hand.
Get your art seen for free
Wheat pasting allows artists to put really big, pre-made ‘pieces’ up on public walls in a matter of minutes. We asked street artist 'Birdhat' to teach Time Out the art of the paste-up.