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National Portrait Gallery

The vast collection of intimate portraits of people famous and otherwise is illuminated by as much natural light as possible in an elegantly designed setting. 

See the faces of Australia’s history at the National Portrait Gallery. Traditional and modern painting, sculpture, collage and photography bring these personalities to life.  

Famous faces, such as Nick Cave, Cate Blanchett and Rupert Murdoch, are the first images you’ll view as you enter the gallery. Discover insightful and intriguing portraits of people you may not recognise, but have important stories to tell. Journey through Australia’s history from pre-colonial times through to the convict era, federation, world wars and recent decades. Come face-to-face with prime ministers, politicians, governors and the royal family, as well as artists, musicians, activists, doctors, clergy, indigenous elders and everyday people. See how portraiture has evolved as part of art history, from oil paintings to today’s digital media technologies. 

The National Portrait Gallery houses over 450 works in its permanent exhibitions. Enter an elegant modern stone and wood building that allows you to feel the Australian sunshine on your face while standing inside. The design creates harmony between the natural environment outside and the exhibits inside. Different timbers collected from around Australia appear in the building’s walls and floors. 

Portraiture is often described as the most intimate of art forms. Gaze into the faces of these subjects for hours on end. Look for Ned Kelly’s death mask, an iconic piece of Australia’s enduring fascination with the famous outlaw. Throughout the year, the gallery hosts short-term exhibitions of contemporary Australian art across all mediums, including the annual National Photographic Portrait Prize which showcases excellence in new photography. Delight in a variety of live music, theatre, film and educational events. 

Find the National Portrait Gallery in the same precinct as the High Court and the National Gallery of Australia, near the banks of Lake Burley Griffin. The gallery is an important stop on the way around Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle. Regular buses stop near the gallery. If you drive, make use of the underground metered parking. Enjoy a lunch at the Portrait Café and choose a beautiful gift from the Portrait Gallery Store. The gallery has free entry, with fees for some special exhibitions.

Popular Activities at National Portrait Gallery

Get the most out of your time at National Portrait Gallery. Here is a list of the top things to do:

When preparing for your day out, you may want to consider buying a Private Tour : 3 Amazing London Art Galleries 1 guide or a 3 Amazing London Art Galleries! 1 tour.

Examine our Canberra things to do page to learn about more activities while you're here.


Guide to Exploring National Portrait Gallery


Map

Top National Portrait Gallery Hotel & Accommodation Deals

See all 187 properties near National Portrait Gallery
Hyatt Hotel Canberra - a Park Hyatt AU$238
Hyatt Hotel Canberra - a Park Hyatt

Hyatt Hotel Canberra - a Park Hyatt

Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla, ACT
     
    5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Capital Hill, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Albert Hall and Old Parliament House. National Gallery of Australia and Parliament House are also within 1 mi (2 km).

    Hotel Kurrajong Canberra AU$135
    Hotel Kurrajong Canberra

    Hotel Kurrajong Canberra

    8 National Circuit, Barton, ACT
       
      4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Capital Hill, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of National Archives of Australia, Old Parliament House, and National Gallery of Australia. Parliament House and Lake Burley Griffin are also within 1 mi (2 km). Kingston Canberra Station is 29 minutes by foot.

      Pacific Suites Canberra AU$130
      Pacific Suites Canberra

      Pacific Suites Canberra

      100 Northbourne Avenue, Braddon, ACT
         
        4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Canberra City Centre, this aparthotel is within a 15-minute walk of Canberra Museum and Gallery and Canberra Centre. Australian National University and National Convention Centre are also within 1 mi (2 km).

        The Sebel Canberra Civic AU$159
        The Sebel Canberra Civic

        The Sebel Canberra Civic

        197 LONDON CIRCUIT, Canberra, ACT
           
          4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Canberra City Centre, this luxury aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of Canberra Museum and Gallery, Canberra Centre, and National Convention Centre. Australian National University and Lake Burley Griffin are also within 1 mi (2 km).

          Rydges Capital Hill AU$169
          Rydges Capital Hill

          Rydges Capital Hill

          Corner Canberra Ave & National Circuit, Forrest, ACT
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Capital Hill, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Manuka Shopping Centre and Manuka Oval. Parliament House and Old Parliament House are also within 1 mi (2 km). Kingston Canberra Station is 26 minutes by foot.

            Pavilion on Northbourne AU$87
            Pavilion on Northbourne

            Pavilion on Northbourne

            242 Northbourne Avenue, Dickson, ACT
               
              4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in the historical district, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Canberra Museum and Gallery, Canberra Centre, and Australian National University. Australian War Memorial and Canberra Stadium are also within 3 mi (5 km).

              Little National Hotel AU$119
              Little National Hotel

              Little National Hotel

              21 National Circuit, Barton, ACT
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Capital Hill, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of National Archives of Australia and Manuka Oval. Parliament House and Old Parliament House are also within 1 mi (2 km). Kingston Canberra Station is 26 minutes by foot.

                Hotel Realm AU$169
                Hotel Realm

                Hotel Realm

                18 National Circuit, Barton, ACT
                   
                  4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Capital Hill, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of National Archives of Australia, Parliament House, and Old Parliament House. National Gallery of Australia and Manuka Oval are also within 1 mi (2 km). Kingston Canberra Station is 26 minutes by foot.