TL;DR – Today I explore the museums along the Brisbane river as I walk from GOMA down to Southbank
I had a day off this week and given it was perfect weather, warm but before the heat of summer hits us, I thought I would take some time winding down Brisbane’s Cultural District among its brutalist buildings, and lush Bougainvillea. All of this is right next to the Brisbane River so it is hard to get lost with that guideline always being there for you. So with today’s Explore-It, we will take you through all the museums, some old, some new, all full of interesting things, and best of all, every place I visited you can enter for free.
Our first stop along the way is at the Gallery of Modern Art, or as it is more affectionately called locally the GOMA. Now a lot of the galley was closed as they prepare for the Asia/Pacific Triennial later in the year. But I was here for one thing and that was to see Qui Zhijie’s Map of Technological Ethics, and oh boy, nothing quite prepared me for it
I don’t know what I was expecting but I don’t think it was an abstract map that rose five stories off the ground, both massive in scope yet full of intricate detail. At every spot, there was something new to discover as it mapped out the intersections of science, society, and politics. Seriously, if you get a chance you have to check it out for yourself because no picture will ever do it justice.
After GOMA, our next stop was next door at QAG, or the Queensland Art Gallery, a building that I have often walked by but I don’t think I have ever been inside, even on a school trip. The main reason I stopped by was I wanted to catch Tony Albert’s Visible series that was closing in a week.
It is a powerful series of works exploring how we as an Australian society view Indigenous Australians by reinterpreting kitsch Australiana icons into deeper works. It is at once confronting but also illuminating as it sheds light on both our past and present. There were also lighter moments like the Star Wars series that was envisioned to help connect young people with the process of making art, something the world desperately needs.
Exploring the rest of the gallery I was stopped by this screen, full of gold leaf and intricate ink, but I’m not sure what it was that drew me to it. However, after watching it for a while I noticed an info blurb and discovered it was made in the 1650s. How something on paper survived all those centuries was amazing, and now sitting in a gallery in a place that was practically unknown at the time it was made.
After QAG, it was time for a quick stop in the State Library for a bite to eat and some time to think about what I had already seen.
On the way to our next stop, I took a moment to meet some old friends. These whales have been here since I was a little kid greeting thousands of visitors every day, with their stern visage.
Now it was time to visit the last museum on our trip, the aptly named Queensland Museum a place every child who grew up in Brisbane knows quite well.
So why am I hear, well in one word, Dinosaurs (and yes Dinosaur adjacent reptiles I know Pterosaurs and Ichthyosaurs etc are not Dinosaurs, don’t @ me). As a Child, this was a place of amazement as you got to feel the weight and size of history, in a way you would not see until Jurassic Park came out in cinemas. Here we have a Muttaburrasaurus, some Pterosaurs, and a Diprotodon in the background. You get to see one of the best-preserved Dinosaur stampedes ever discovered, and a whole bunch of fossils showing the full range of history.
While exploring the past is important, it also necessary to understand our present, before we lose it, and it is here that the Museum makes extensive use of its taxidermy collection. In the Wild State exhibit, we jump across the state to see all the animals that make it their home. The fact that you are looking at a bunch of dead animals posed should feel gauche, but care has gone into every display, and including children into the design of the exhibit with special areas only they can see. Also a shout out here to all the grandparents babysitting during the school holidays and taking their grandchildren to a museum, you guys are the best.
It had been a long day but you can’t beat Southbank in the spring when the Bougainvillea is in full bloom. You wind past the gardens, past the shops, and the beach that was packed with people enjoying the warm weather.
Finally after a long day and walk it was time to bring it to an end, but not before having one last indulgence. Which was having a Golden Gaytime down by the river.
With that our day exploring Brisbane’s Cultural District and Southbank comes to an end. Do you have any childhood memories of exploring the museums near you? Let me know in the comments below, and see you for our next Explore-It.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images are by the author unless stipulated otherwise