Last weekend I flew to Canberra. The NGA (National Gallery of Australia) has been hosting the "Masterpieces from Paris" exhibit and it is finishing up in April. This is the first time these paintings have travelled outside of France and the opportunity to see them, was too good to miss.
My Mum and Dad were also keen to visit and so they drove up, and I met them there. We were not alone in wanting to see the masterpieces in 'the flesh'. Gough Whitlam (former Australian Prime Minister) was there, being wheeled around in a wheelchair with a personal guide. And hundreds of others too.
The crowds at the exhibition were RIDICULOUS! Who would think all these people would be interested in looking at art! The queue was more than a few hundred metres long and there was a waiting time of 2 plus hours.
It was suggested (and we agreed) to pay for NGA membership (reciprocal rights with NGV) which meant we could 'jump the queue'. It was not an exclusive offer just for us (though many decided to stay in the queue) though it meant that after a half hour process, we were in. None of us were keen to spend 2 hours standing in a queue and it was well worth the additional $20 it cost to join.
The exhibition was stunning. The paintings I had only ever known from art and history books and art classes, were displayed before us, and again I was reminded that art in real life is so much more beautiful (of course) than in the pages of a book. Being able to see these works of art, get up close and see the brush strokes, see the texture and layers of paint, was a treat.
Canberra was buzzing and the weather was beautiful. As the Capital of Australia and it's political home, Canberra is often more known for it's politics, legal fireworks and porn (though maybe not in that order) than for it's art. Hopefully I will be back in the future to see more of the art and it's reputation changes a little!
And to top it all off, there was a magnificent fireworks display on Saturday night which was a perfect send off after a great weekend.