A fusion of Museum and Gallery: the Museum of Brisbane

The Museum of Brisbane (MoB) is located within the heritage listed Brisbane City Hall which officially opened in 1930. The City Hall separately runs tours that engage with its architecture and history. As with many civic buildings world-wide, Brisbane City Hall’s architectural style was influenced by classical Rome and Greece with soaring Corinthian columns dominating the building’s entrance. At the time Brisbane City Hall was ranked as Australia’s second largest construction to the Sydney harbour bridge.[1] The MoB within the City Hall, expands and builds upon its tradition of being a focal point of history and culture to the Brisbane city, its local and international visitors.

First opened in 2003, the MoB embraces a wide range of regularly changing exhibitions and events that also actively supports artists, designers and artisans. Cultural and historical exhibits are presented to visitors that fuse the museum and gallery into one place. Taking the lift to level 3, brings visitors to the reception area. Free tours can also be booked here to wonder at the internal workings of the City Hall’s historic clock tower. Behind the reception area is a shop that stocks many items including catalogues and books. Beyond the shop leads through to an entrance corridor directing visitors past an artist workshop then into the larger gallery areas.

The MoB reveals many aspects of the city’s history and identity. In 2019 the MoB was awarded an Australian Museums and Galleries National Award[2] for Life in Irons: Brisbane’s Convict Stories.[3] The exhibition gave insights into Brisbane’s early life of the Moreton Bay Penal Colony in the early 19th century. Original documents including maps, drawings and registers were displayed and are listed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register[4].

The New Woman exhibition gives recognition to and celebrates often overlooked female artists. More than eighty artists in a timeline traversing a century 1920-2019, display painting, photography, performance, installation and sculptures. This exhibition also contained the works of the leading Australian artist, Daphne Mayo who designed and sculpted the tympanum above the main entrance to City Hall.

New Woman
PHOTOGRAPH BY Museum of Brisbane

Highlights of New Woman exhibition also included informative talks by curators, museum staff and historians. The artist-in-residence program allows visitors to gain insight into local artists and their practice. The museum shares many stories and [3] MoB 2018-19 Annual Report https://www.museumofbrisbane.com.au gives histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples giving an insight and understanding of life in a pre-and post-colonised Brisbane and Queensland. The inaugural Brisbane Art Design (BAD) festival held in 2019 is another successful program the MoB ran in which a wide range of designers and artists presented their works.

Even though relatively small in comparison to some museums, the MoB concisely and successfully celebrates people, places and diverse narratives by using a mix of history, culture and arts. Its regularly changing exhibitions and public programs bring to light many interesting and often untold stories and histories. Entry is free, MoB is easily accessed, centrally located and close to public transport or parking.

Practical Information

Opening times: Temporarily closed (COVID-19)

Admission: Free.

Note: Some events and exhibitions do require paid entry.

Location: Level 3, City Hall King

George Square, Brisbane,

Queensland, Australia 4001.

Website: https://www.Museumofbrisbane.com.au

1 https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/things-to-see-and-do/council-venues-and-precincts/brisbane-cityhall/city-hall-history-and-heritage/about-city-hall

2 Winner, Interpretation, Learning and Audience Engagement: Organisations with Paid Staff for Life in Irons: Brisbane’s Convict Stories.

3 MoB 2018-19 Annual Report https://www.museumofbrisbane.com.au

4 https://www.amw.org.au/sites/default/files/memory_of_the_world/crime-and-punishment/convictrecords-queensland-1825-1842.html

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Linda McInally

Linda McInally is a Brisbane based visual artist completing a Bachelor of Fine Art at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. Website: www.lindamcinally.com