Masterpieces of Paris Exhibition Visit: Tips and Thoughts

March 15, 2010 | 3 Comments

It took me 50 minutes to get in from here on Thursday morning.

Tips that I gleaned for visiting the Masterpieces of Paris exhibition in Canberra:

  • Be prepared to stand in a queue for a few hours – bring food, water, hat, umbrella,… and lots of patience
  • Be prepared to enjoy the art with lots of other people- 3-4 rows at time. The most crowd was around Van Gogh’s starry night
  • Afternoon is better than morning ( a LOT of people get there well before opening time)
  • Monday – Thursday is even better
  • If you really want to see the art but just don’t want to stand in a queue – go straight into the gallery general inquiry desk and spend $50 to become a member. You get a free ticket and they let you straight in.
  • Parking is a problem. Both days I was in the precinct, I parked in the Portrait gallery carpark before 10am– it fills up very quickly from 9.45 when it opens but there did seem to be some movement at 2 pm when I left. The problem with parking here is that you have to get your ticket validated from the front desk of the Portrait gallery and it closes at 5pm – so no good if you plan to stay at the NGA for its extended hours
  • Food in the area is limited – if you want to sit down for a civilized meal or coffee plan to eat outside peak times – otherwise more queuing!

Other comments which are purely personal…

  • I can never decide whether to get the audio tour or not – I like to know what they say but never feel like listening to them on the day. I normally prefer to go painting to painting and experience them for myself. The great thing about this exhibition is that all the paintings are online… As well as the audio tour. I listened to the audio tour the night before and got all the background and tips before I went.
  • As I had a sneak preview online, I knew that the period was POST impressionism – and therefore was not surprised that the last 2 rooms were a lot less interesting then the other ones.
  • While I understand all the hype – and considered this exhibition worth making the effort to go to Canberra to see it – it was NOT the best exhibition that I have seen. Since I got home, I realized that there was another exhibition of masterpieces from Musee d’Orsay in 2004 at Melbourne. This exhibition which spanned a wider range of Pre to Post impressionist, was better, in my opinion. It had more impressionist paintings and less of the post-stuff – Nabis and Symolism etc. and BTW Starry Night was part of this exhibition too. So the claims of being the biggest and best, might be technically true, but I think a bit misleading!
  • I have been to Musee d’Orsay in Paris and although we didn’t have much time there I have wonderful memories of some of the paintings that I saw there – only two of these were in this exhibition…so the exhibition was great to see them again plus more!!!
  • So yes, the exhibition was wonderful!!!

But the biggest tip of all…

Next time there is a big exhibition in Canberra I am going to plan to go and see it early and not leave it to the last month!!!!


  • Liz Steel says:

    yes, some of those tips are fairly standard- I normally try for the lunchtime trick – on Thursday it would have worked but on the Friday the line didn't seem to go down at all.
    In Australia we are not used to queuing for long times to get into an exhibition. A wait of 3 hours, last week, is unheard of and made headlines

  • These sound like really good tips and I recognise a number of them as being ones which are pretty universal.

    I find in London that for all the popular exhibitions you should never ever go the first or the last month or in school holidays! The last week is to be avoided at all costs!

    A really good time to go round is lunchtime if it's not a 'popular' day. This applies even more so if in France!

    I've always paid to be a member for shows at the RA. I can't abide standing in line when you don't know how long it's going to take and am only prepared to do it for shows overseas which I really want to see. The other advantage of being a member besides being able to walk straight in is that you can go back again and again! 🙂

  • Maureen says:

    Love your blog. Stumbled upon it through Will keep watching!

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