National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

Bare Degrees of undress

The National Portrait Gallery has been on our to-do list for some time, but we’ve never actually managed to make it there. On this trip to Canberra though, we’re being tourists. It also helped that the “Bare: Degrees of undress” exhibition is on currently. The exhibition has been well advertised in Melbourne, so we were well aware to go and see it while here.

The main gallery

The National Portrait Gallery in Australia is a collection of portraits of prominent Australians that are important in their field of endeavour or whose life sets them apart as an individual of long-term public interest.


The National Portrait Gallery has been in existence since May 1998. Originally housed in Old Parliament House, it now resides next to the High Court of Australia on King Edward Terrace.

The gallery is an interesting look through some of Australia’s most historical figures, both famous and infamous. Included in those ranks are Julia Gillard, Gough Whitlam, Bart Cummings, Alan Bond, Rupert Murdoch as well the fascinating Ned Kelly Death Mask.

One picture I would love to have seen is that of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pouring soil into the hand of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari in 1975. Unfortunately it’s not showing at the moment. I’ll check back next time I’m in Canberra to see if it’s on a wall somewhere accessible.

Bare: Degrees of undress

bare degrees of undressI wasn’t sure what to expect with this exhibition, but with all the hype, I think I was expecting more than I got.

There were many notables in the exhibition.  Mostly male, and mostly of their top halves.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t after a nudie show in the slightest (I did go to this with my mother-in-law), but it did rather feel like it should have been titled “Notable Australian male chests”.

The exhibition has been running since mid August, and runs until mod November 2015.

Edit: Now that Bare: Degrees of undress has concluded, you can view the works online.

The National Portrait Gallery is open Monday – Sunday 10am -5pm (I think that means 7 days a week) and is located on King Edward Terrace, in front of the High Court and alongside the National Gallery of Australia.

Entry is free, and the gallery is wheelchair and pram accessible.

Be sure to check for current and future exhibitions.

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