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Launceston: Tasmania’s northern arts hub

must see arts and cultural destinations in Launceston, Tasmania.

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It’s now fair to say that MONA and the annual MOFO festivals have successfully transformed Hobart into a globally recognised destination for the arts. However, with all the attention on the south, people are missing what’s going on in Tasmania’s second biggest city. Here’s a few must-see Launceston arts venues that are worth a northern adventure.

Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) is Australia’s largest regional museum focusing on Tasmanian history, natural sciences, colonial and contemporary art. The museum and gallery are spread over two separate sites at Inveresk and Royal Park with a free bus that links the two locations.  The QVMAG Art Gallery is located at Royal Park site and has an impressive collection of colonial art, including works by John Glover and Hugh Ramsay accompanied with contemporary works by some of Tasmania’s most prominent contemporary artists such as Philip Wolfhagen and Bea Maddock.

The QVMAG Museum and Planetarium is located at the Inveresk site and with a range of locally significant and interactive exhibits (including a planetarium!), it provides plenty of entertainment for adults and little ones. When you have finished, pop next door to the Academy Gallery at the Tasmanian College of the Arts for a great selection of contemporary art and design.

Tasmania is renowned for its exotic timbers such as  Huon pine, Celery Top pine and Sassafras make Tasmania a woodworker’s paradise with Launceston at the epicentre. Launceston should be your first point of call for Tasmanian wood design with three of the state’s most beautiful workshops, Design Tasmania, 1842 and the Simon Ancher Studio in close proximity.

Design Tasmania sits on the edge of Launceston’s City Park housing a design shop, gallery and wood collection that exclusively features contemporary wood design made in the state by Tasmanian designers. As well as a program of exhibitions you’ll find Australia’s only museum collection of contemporary wood design featuring, iconic Tasmania timbers such as King Billy pine, Huon pine and Myrtle.

Simon Ancher’s studio is open every Saturday or by appointment, and you should definitely try and work it into your schedule. His ultra-modern, industrial studio space in the heart of Launceston and features unique contemporary furniture designed and crafted by Ancher. There is also a range of carefully sourced lighting and household items. Be careful here, you’ll want everything.

If it’s the performing arts that takes your fancy, Launceston will look after you with the historic Princess Theatre and its little brother the Earl Arts Centre. The two spaces managed by Theatre North offer an intriguing annual program of professional live performance and acting as the hub of performing arts in northern Tasmania. The Princess Theatre is considered a Launceston icon with guided tours available on weekday mornings.

You’ll also find some top notch contemporary art galleries in the northern capital with Gallery Pejean in the CBD worth a good look.  Gallery Pejean focuses on Tasmanian visual artists housing works by the likes of David Lake, Geoff Dyer and David Hamilton.  The gallery, situated in bustling George Street, features two exhibition spaces packed with a diverse range of pieces from acclaimed artists to exciting emerging talent.

Sawtooth ARI is another dedicated space for contemporary art in the city centre. The artist run initiative is a gallery that showcases an impressive annual program of contemporary and experimental works by local and international artists. If time permits and you’ve got some trusty transport, take the journey out to Evandale to see Handmark Gallery making sure to pop in at Tasmanian Glassblowers in Breadalbane along the way.

Article published 1 July 2015

Portraits at Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery - QVMAG
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Queen Victoria Art Gallery

Bookshops, Galleries, Heritage, Major museums

2 Wellington Street, Launceston

QVMAG's dedicated art gallery at Royal Park in Launceston
Twillight outside QVMAG at Inveresk
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Queen Victoria Museum

Bookshops, Galleries, Heritage, Major museums

2 Invermay Road, Invermay

Featuring the Museum's Planetarium
Image of Academy Gallery with an exhibition curated by Catherine Wolfhagen
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Academy Gallery

Galleries

2-4 Invermay Road, Invermay TAS 7248

at the Inveresk campus of the Tasmanian College of the Arts
Princess Theatre- Launceston, Tasmania. Image courtesy of Theatre North
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Princess Theatre

Theatre + performing arts

57 Brisbane Street, Launceston

Launceston's iconic live performance venue in the heart of the city
Earl Arts Centre
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Earl Arts Centre

Theatre + performing arts

57 Brisbane Street, Launceston

Behind Launceston's Princess Theatre - an intimate black box theatre space
Fabricate - Contemporary Jewellery Exhibition
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Design Tasmania

Galleries

Design Tasmania Centre, Brisbane Street

A not-for-profit organisation with a mission to support and sustain design.
Main Retail Gallery
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1842

Galleries

Corner Cimitiere and St John Streets, Launceston 7250

Fine furniture, art and 20th Century decorative arts.
The Cone Glass stemware
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Tasmanian Glassblowers

Galleries, Studios

859 Hobart Road, Breadalbane

production based studio of master glassblower, James Dodson