The Cultural precinct in Brisbane is an absolute gem in the Brisbane Crown and much of what is on offer there is free; the museum, the art gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, (GoMA). In addition it is adjacent to South Bank parkland with all of its additional features, like the lagoon, a free place to swim and dozens of restaurants. Expo 88 changed Brisbane forever and the parklands and the cultural precinct are a lasting monument to Expo, although while the parklands are on the site of the 88 Expo, the museum, state library, and art gallery all pre-date expo. G and I both took a year off uni to work at expo, the museum and art gallery were places I would visit for a change of pace, they have remained favourite haunts. It was in the dinosaur garden that we officially got engaged, as in, ring on finger, not a surprise as such, it was something we had discussed at length, but still romantic, well I think so, I really like dinosaurs.
I still enjoy wandering in the museum, from the dinosaur garden, to the whale walk with its eerie, whale calls and through the galleries, especially the discovery centre where, in addition, to all the stuffed exhibits, you will find live examples of species like the camouflaged leaf geckos or the green tree python, beautiful, jewel like creatures, . While special exhibits might attract a fee, most of the museum is free and a wonderful way to kill time. Museums, libraries and art galleries, are very much my natural habitat and I cannot think of a time when I will not find them fascinating. No matter what your age I can think of no better place to visit. These spaces feed my imagination, my creativity and my soul. While an escape to the bush feeds my soul like nothing else, my creativity benefits from excursions to these cathedrals of culture. Visits feel like making deposits in an inspiration bank.
In the art gallery, it is architecture as much as the art that is the attraction, after all architecture is just art we occupy, and this is a beautiful space, inter-spread with tranquillity pools and spacious halls. The iconic piece that always seems to typify the space and the gallery, the one painting that really stands out for me is the Rupert Bunny painting The Bathers, it has something decadent and seductive about it, I always wanted to join the women in the image, lounging by the pool. Two pieces always seem to typify Queensland and this gallery, The Bathers by Bunny and Under the Jacaranda by Godfrey Rivers, both paintings speak to a fantasy of white middle class luxury and privilege, pretty pictures in every sense but really belonging to a different age and different values. If you subscribe to the adage: Art Should Disturb The Comfortable And Comfort The Disturbed then these pieces, while pretty to look at, don’t challenge us much. There are some interesting pieces in the collection, some of my favourites are not currently on display, I have always been fond of some expressionist seascapes by John Russell, There is a significant Aboriginal art collection including pieces by Namatjira and other artists from Hermannsburg. The European collection is not fantastic but their are some curious pieces.
GoMA., (Gallery of Modern Art) is a magnificent addition to the precinct and regularly hosts great contemporary art exhibitions and events, currently hosting the Margaret Olley and Ben Quilty exhibitions, (separate post on the exhibition coming). Exhibitions that really are not to be missed. The State Library is next door, it also often has interesting exhibits and events, each of these buildings has an excellent book shop and cafe. The GoMA bookshop is probably my favourite and a real danger to my finances, not just books on art but a pretty diverse selection of books and gifts. Free WiFi is also available in the cultural precinct.
Queensland has an extensive museum collection and museum system, with multiple specialist collections spread through the state. In Toowoomba we have the Cobb and Co museum which is also a fantastic facility and well worth a visit. Karen at Living on The Downs did a great post on Cobb and Co last week, check it out here: https://livingonthedowns.wordpress.com/2019/09/01/book-snap-sunday-pride-and-prejudice/ With Carnival of Flowers coming up, if you are making a trip to Toowoomba for the carnival maybe check out Cobb and Co while you are here.