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What Is the Ian Potter Centre?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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The Ian Potter Centre is an Australian art museum that contains more that 20 different galleries with more than 20,000 individual pieces. It has the distinction of being the first of its kind in the world due to the exclusive focus on Australian art. Displays here not only include paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures by artists from Australia or on Australian subjects, but also exhibits on textiles, jewelry and fashion-related creations. It is a popular tourist attraction that received 5 million visitors within its first five years of opening.

Opened in 2003 within the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in the concrete Federation Square building built in Melbourne in 2003, the Ian Potter Centre is recognized worldwide for its galleries of aboriginal Australian art. There are several aboriginal Australian galleries with many exhibits that are changed regularly. While the exhibits are typically changed to encourage repeat visitors, there are other reasons involving the preservation of the artworks. For instance, some of the sketches in the Colonial gallery of the center may become damaged with too much exposure to light.

The Colonial gallery focuses on works created by Europeans who settled in Australia. There are at least 20 galleries arranged on three different floors that begin with Colonial Australian art and end with contemporary pieces. Some of the well-known artists whose work is featured at the center include Tom Roberts, Emily Kngwarreye, Sidney Nolan and Margaret Preston.

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A children's gallery is typically included and usually offers a wide range of hands-on exhibits for kids. The exhibits may include coloring projects as well as a theme-based story reading, depending on the time of year and season. Other features for kids at the Ian Potter Centre may involve a musical performance by a symphony or other family fun events. The center has also been known to hold educational programs such as those involving the history of aboriginal Australian art. For this reason, schools are often involved in these types of art museum programs.

The center's affiliation with the NGV in Melbourne is sometimes confused with The National Gallery of Australia (NGA)in Canberra. The NGV is Australia's oldest public art museum, as it was established in 1861. The Ian Potter Centre is named after Sir Ian Potter, a financier, politician, philanthropist and NGV Building Committee member who passed away 24 October 1994 at age 92. He supported many arts projects in Australia that included the establishment of ballet companies and theater venues.

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