10 Best Free Museums in Melbourne

Picking the ten best free museums in Melbourne is no easy task really as Melbourne has an amazing art scene. It’s not just local or even national but the best of international art that is on display at most Melbourne museums at any given time of the year. Classic, as well as modern art, are on display and what’s wonderful about this is that most of the time, you get to see it for free. Of course, you’d have to pay for the really famous international masterpieces touring the city but there are ever so many that let you enjoy a variety of artistic endeavours for free in museums around Melbourne.

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1. NGV International

NGV International is one of the free museums in Melbourne
Image credit: Wpcpey

The National Gallery of Victoria located on St Kilda Road is one of the best free museums in Melbourne besides being one of the most popular. You can freely view their collection of antique art, sculptures, paintings, photographs, and more at your own pace. They also have contemporary art in fashion, furniture, and paper. Their multimedia art leaves you impressed at the amazing creativity of the human imagination on display. While you’re browsing the various arts, be mindful that the building has its own claim to world fame. The NGV has the largest stained-glass ceiling in the world. So, don’t forget to look up as you stroll around.

Website: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au
Opening hours: Daily, 10am to 5pm
Address: 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, VIC 3006

2. The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

The Ian Potter Centre
Image credit: Peter Connolly

The Ian Potter Centre is dedicated to Australian art. This is where you should head if you’re looking for indigenous art that Australia is famous for. There is also a good collection of non-indigenous art that strikes quite a contrast to the former. Their permanent collection includes about 20,000 works that are rotated so you will always find something that you haven’t seen before. This is another one of the best free museums in Melbourne which give you a whole new world of art. They also hold events, guided tours, workshops, exhibitions, and school holiday workshops for children. Most of these are free of charge so you can just drop in on a rainy day and enjoy a feast for the senses without paying a cent. They have lovely cafes, but of course, there’s no such thing as free coffee.

Website: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au
Opening hours: Daily, 10am to 5pm
Address: Federation Square, Flinders St & Russell Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

3. ACMI

Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Image credit: Bidgee

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is a digital wonderworld right at the heart of Melbourne CBD. They have ticketed and non-ticketed events like the Virtual Reality experience which you can view for free. As you’ve most probably guessed, it’s all about the moving image and so has video games, films, television, educational programs, exhibitions, production spaces, and hands-on interactive events. They also hold creative workshops, forums, live events, and talks on all things related to digital media. This has got to be the best free museum of its kind in Melbourne. And its location at Fed Square makes it quite easy to visit. 

Website: https://www.acmi.net.au
Opening hours: Daily, 10am to 5pm
Address: Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000 

4. Shrine of Remembrance

Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne
Image credit: Bernard Gagnon

The Shrine is a memorial to Australians who lost their lives serving in wars. It was built by World War I veterans for their fellow soldiers who didn’t make it back home, and ever since, it’s been dedicated to all who were killed in battle. The Shrine itself is a specimen of splendid architecture resplendent with symbolic imagery and set amidst a beautiful park. You can get panoramic views of the city from here as it’s located on a hill. At 11am on the 11th of November, a ray of sunlight passes over the commemorative stone every year. This is replayed artificially every half hour for those who cannot make it to the Shrine in November to witness the natural phenomenon. Besides this, the Shrine also houses over 800 works of art, historical objects, and war paraphernalia that you can view for free. They also have guided tours at 11am and 12.45p daily. 

Website: https://www.shrine.org.au/Home
Opening hours: Daily, 10am to 5pm
Location:  Birdwood Ave, Melbourne VIC 3001

5. State Library of Victoria

State Library of Victoria

The State Library of Victoria is not just a stately building in Melbourne CBD but also a venue for free museum exhibits and events. You may have to make a booking even if the event is free as they can be booked out due to popularity. They have free events such as the World of the Book exhibition where you get to see the history of book designing and illustration; The Changing Face of Victoria that gives you an interesting history of Victoria; Cowen Gallery exhibition of paintings; and the Peter Wille: Out Driving that takes you through the architectural beauty of Melbourne. Then there are the guided tours, the Courtyard, the Dome galleries, and cafes. So don’t let the fear of dusty libraries deter you from this exciting venue that is more than just a library. It would certainly do justice to the label as one of the best free museums in Melbourne. 

Website: http://www.slv.vic.gov.au
Opening hours: Friday to Monday, 10am to 6pm; Tuesday to Thursday, 10am to 8pm
Location: 328 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000

6. Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
Image credit: Donaldytong

ACCA is truly the best free museum in Melbourne as they only have free events. It’s all about providing space for artistic expression and is representative of the Melbourne cultural scene. The building itself is an architectural award winner in glass and metal showcasing artists from all parts of the world as well as local talent. They have educational events, lectures, talks, screenings, music, performances, and presentations on all things art. They support art in all its variety so if you lean towards the artistic, they will provide you a platform to ensure you don’t bloom unseen. This free museum of arts in Melbourne is where your innate artist can take centre stage. They have free guided tours every Sunday. A book shop and Coffee Cart are added attractions. 

Website: http://acca.melbourne/visit
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm
Location: 111Sturt Street, Southbank, Melbourne, VIC 3006

7. Old Treasury Building

Old Treasury Building is one of the free museums in Melbourne
Image credit: Gil Meydan

The Old Treasury Building is a display of fine historic architecture and within its stately interiors, you will find the history of Melbourne and Victoria displayed to perfection. You might be interested to know that this is where the old gold vaults are, where the bullion was stored during the gold rush. These days, you’ll have to make do with a digital presentation about the golden days. This free museum in Melbourne also holds events, some of which are ticketed. General visits are absolutely free, and you are allowed to wander around at your own pace. If you want a guided tour, you’d have to make an appointment.

Website: https://www.oldtreasurybuilding.org.au
Opening hours: Sunday to Friday, 10am to 4pm
Location: 20 Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

8. Koorie Heritage Trust

Koorie Heritage Trust is one of the free museums in Melbourne
Image credit: Koorie Heritage Trust

Koorie Heritage Trust is a free museum in Melbourne exhibiting the best of indigenous art, cultural objects, photograph collection, and oral history recordings all under one roof. The collection is representative of the Koorie aboriginal people. They have a reference library with an impressive collection of 4000 items including historic books, documents, published and unpublished work, posters, maps, and theses. This is the best free museum in Melbourne where indigenous art and history are concerned. The centre also has a shop selling authentic Koorie craft and artefacts. They also have an online shop with worldwide shipping available. 

Website: http://koorieheritagetrust.com.au
Opening hours: Daily, 10am to 5pm
Location: The Yarra Building, Federation Square, Cnr Flinders & Swanston Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

9. Buxton Contemporary

Buxton Contemporary
Image credit: Buxton Contemporary

This is a museum of art collection housed in the University of Melbourne’s School of Arts. It’s one of the best free museums of contemporary arts located in the Arts Precinct of Melbourne. The museum houses the Michael Buxton Collection donated by him and is composed of contemporary Australian art. The museum also holds exhibitions and music performances in addition to their teaching and education-related activities. You can wander around in their spacious interiors and take in all that contemporary art for free. 

Website: https://buxtoncontemporary.com
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm
Location: Cnr Southbank Boulevard & Dodds Street, Southbank, VIC 

10. The Australian Music Vault

Australian Music Vault is one of the free museums in Melbourne
Image credit: Australian Music Vault

The best free museum in Melbourne for all things music related, the Australian Music Vault is definitely worth visiting. The museum takes you on a historic tour of contemporary Australian music with interactive experiences. Their collections include costumes worn by famous performers and rock stars as well as interviews and stories behind hits and misses in the music industry. Their digital music experience takes you through your favourites as well as forgotten tunes, and they will email you a Spotify playlist of what you listened to while at the museum. It is located at the Arts Centre and easily accessible via public transport. 

Website: https://www.australianmusicvault.com.au
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Location: Arts Centre, Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC 3000

If you’re travelling on a budget, these free Melbourne museums are a good start. You won’t have to think about allocating budget for Melbourne museum prices because you can enter any of them without spending a single dollar.

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