New galleries and theatres to visit in 2024

From a power station's $100 million facelift to a museum for queer history, here are the top new cultural destinations to add to your list this year.
Immersive exhibition ‘130BPM: Soundtrack to a Revolution’ curated by Bertie Blackman to open at Qtopia Sydney in its new home. Image: 1985 Sydney Gay Mardi Gras, cropped with colour enhancement. Photo: William Yang. Large puppet-like pieces with vibrant colours dance in the dark with people holding them up from the bottom.

A collection of newly opened and upcoming cultural venues to check out this year.

Galleries and museums

HAIR ARI
514 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Supported by City of Melbourne, HAIR is a new not-for-profit artist-run space located across Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market. HAIR operates with a focus on research-based projects and experimental practices. It will open in mid-January this year with an artist line-up including Eric Della Bosca (19 January to 8 February), Huang Xuebin and Emily Parsons-Lord.

Koorie Heritage Trust
The Yarra Building, Federation Square, corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

The Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) has reopened after renovations in December with new exhibition galleries and more space to showcase the permanent collection alongside accessible community engagement and education spaces. KHT is the first stand-alone First Peoples’ arts and cultural centre in an Australian capital city. Current exhibitions include the 11th Koorie Art Show, 6th Koorie Art Show Young Mob, Touring Exhibition: Layers of Blak and more.

Melbourne Holocaust Museum
13 Selwyn Street, Elsternwick VIC 3185

The Melbourne Holocaust Museum (MHM) officially opened late last year with the new permanent exhibition Everybody Had a Name, a uniquely Melbourne perspective of the six million lives lost during the Holocaust, memorialised through individual stories. The opening marked the culmination of a 10-year design and planning exercise with a more than four-year construction phase. The architecture is courtesy of Kerstin Thompson Architects. Also showing at the MHM, is the immersive youth-focused exhibition Hidden: Seven Children Saved.

Pwerle Gallery
North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000

Pwerle Gallery is a 100% Aboriginal-owned gallery with the vision to be a cultural hub and share the richness of Aboriginal art and culture. The gallery’s relocation from Norwood to North Terrace is accompanied by a rebranding of the logo, a new website and the inauguration of a new chapter. The space will open to the public in the first half of 2024.

New Indigenous gallery at State Library Victoria
328 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

In December last year, a new gallery dedicated to telling the stories of Victoria’s First Nations communities opened at State Library Victoria. The opening exhibition, beruk, celebrates the return to Country of two rare and culturally significant works by William Barak (1823 – 1903). The exhibition was created on behalf of Wurundjeri people and the community by the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and celebrates William Barak’s life through painted and photographic portraits created in the post-colonial era. On view till 30 April; free entry.

Newscastle Art Gallery
1 Laman Street, Newcastle NSW 2300

Newcastle Art Gallery’s expansion project is set to deliver an additional 1600 square metres of exhibition space alongside a new café and retail shop, multipurpose and educational program spaces, and a secure international standard loading dock. Construction works have commenced and the expansion is scheduled for completion by late 2024. In the meantime, Newcastle Gallery is delivering off-site and digital programming for the community.

PALAS
42 Hansard Street, Zetland 2017

Founded by Tania Doropoulos and Matt Glenn, PALAS will open to the public on 24 February with the first exhibition featuring Marco Fusinato, who presented at the Australian Pavilion as part of the 59th Venice BIennale in 2022. PALAS embraces global and local artistic dialogues and draws upon long-standing relationships with a group of artists who each bring an established history of exhibition making.

Cultural and community venues

naarm ngarrgu
141 Therry Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

narrm ngarrgulibrary and family services centre is also situated in the Queen Victoria Market precinct and welcomed the public from 24 November. The flagship centre’s name is taken from a Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung phrase meaning ‘Melbourne knowledge’. The centre holds a collection of 30,000 items and 60 contemporary artworks, plus heritage items displayed throughout the building that reflect the site’s layered history. It also includes the bubup wilam Children’s Library, creative maker space and sound studios and rooftop terrace. It’s a stunning architectural gathering space to relax in the buzzing city.

Berninneit
91-97 Thompson Avenue, Cowes VIC 3922

Berninneit (Burn-eh-neet) cultural centre is the heart of art, performance, community and culture in Cowes, Phillip Island. The building was a $27.2 million major project that commenced in March 2022 and opened to the public on 2 November 2023. Meaning “gather together”, Berninneit is a Boon Wurrung word selected by the community. The centre features a 260-seat performing arts space and cinema with a full program of events, community activities and venue hire.

Qtopia Sydney
301 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

In September last year, LGBTQIA+ museum, Qtopia Sydney, was formally handed the old Darlinghurst Police Station site as its permanent home. Qtopia Sydney will host permanent and temporary exhibitions that explore the LGBTQIA+ community through the lens of history, culture, art and contemporary issues. The museum will launch in Sydney for Mardi Gras 2024 (16 February to 3 March). Qtopia has also introduced three new theatre spaces – The Bandstand, The Substation and the Qtopia Sydney flagship theatre, The Loading Dock.

White Bay Power Station
28 Robert Street, Rozelle NSW 2039

The 24th Biennale of Sydney in March this year will launch Sydney’s newest arts and cultural venue, the White Bay Power Station. The venue’s conservation has been supported with a total of $100 million in funding. In what will be Sydney’s equivalent of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in London, the White Bay Power Station will have a permanent performance space, education spaces and food services, and every Wednesday night during the Biennale, a program of music and activities will welcome visitors. It is the first time the power station will be open to the public in four decades.

Museum of Chinese in Australia (MOCA)
744 George Street, Haymarket NSW 2000

MOCA started as a conversation between passionate Sydneysiders around the dinner table and is now a centre for research, preservation and exchange to learn about the history of Chinese disapora in Australia. The museum space in Haymarket welcomed visitors for a pop-up exhibition, Stories of Home in 2022 before undergoing major renovation. MOCA will open this year.

Australian Opal Centre
3/11 Morilla Street, Lighting Ridge NSW 2834

The new Australian Opal Centre (AOC), desribed as a ‘world class, energy-efficient, two-storey underground building’, is designed by Wendy Lewin in collaboration with Dunn + Hillam. Construction of Stage 1 of the AOC is currently underway and is slated to open in late 2024. The current AOC’s Lightning Ridge showroom – located in the outback opal mining town – showcases highlights from the collection of precious opals, cultural artefacts, artworks, photographs, archival and research materials. It will be open to the public again after the break from 8 January.

Northern Territory Art Gallery
Mitchell Street, Darwin City NT 0800

The Northern Territory Art Gallery is a key component of Darwin City’s revitalisation and a major architectural centrepiece of Darwin’s Civic and State Square Masterplan. Designed by local architecture practice, Ashford Architects with Clare Design and Hully Liveris, the three-storey gallery will be situated in Darwin’s CBD on Larrakia Country and draw extensively from the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory’s (MAGNT) collection. Construction is anticipated to be completed in 2024, followed by around six months of installation before opening to the public.

Theatres and performance spaces

The Round
379-399 Whitehorse Road, Nunawading VIC 3131

The Round, a new $78 million performing arts centre in the City of Whitehorse, opened on 13 October with a special concert and celebration evening. It features a 626-seat auditorium and 200-seat studio theatre with multipurpose rehearsal and dance studios. Season 2024: FEAST includes performances from the Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia, The Wharf Revue, Circa, Melbourne Theatre Company, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and more.

The Round. Image: Supplied.

Theatre Twyford
Market Street, Merimbula NSW 2548

A new 199-seat raked theatre is being built adjacent to the Twyford Hall and will include a foyer with box office, theatre office, two dressing rooms, stage manager desk and a control room for lighting, sound and AV. After over 20 years of lobbying, Twyford Hall Inc was successful in receiving $7.4 million in grant funding from the NSW State Government through the Regional Communities Development Fund for this new venue. Building works are 95% complete and the theatre is looking at beginning operations by early 2024.

Borderville Theatre
605 Hovell Street, South Albury NSW 2640

Flying Fruit Fly Circus’ newest expansion, the Borderville Studio Theatre, opened on 18 December with The Grad Show 2023. Its launch coincided with the Borderville Festival (2-22 December), which celebrated the achievements of the circus community. The 100-seat studio theatre in Albury, NSW, has been supported by a $3.3 million investment from the NSW Government’s Creative Capital fund. Keep an eye out for upcoming performances.

Visitors gatheing outside Flying Fruit Fly Circus for the 2023 Borderville Festival. Photo: Ian Sutherland.

Sydney Lyric Theatre
55 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont NSW 2009

The under-utilised rear stage of the Sydney Lyric is being transformed into a stage that can cater to 600 standing patrons and 360 seated to fill a long-standing gap of mid-scale theatres in the city’s theatre infrastructure. This plan joins the company’s already approved plans for a 1550-seat Broadway-style theatre and a 1000-seat space for live performances. The rear makeover is expected to open in late 2024 with a program of contemporary music, drama, cabaret and comedy.

Current redevelopments and renovations

Queensland Performing Arts Centre new venue
Cultural Precinct, corner Grey Melbourne Street, QLD 4101

A new performing arts venue to be operated by QPAC was due for completion in 2022, but is currently still under development. The $150 million theatre is located on the Playhouse Green site and will seat a minimum of 1500 patrons.

Read: New theatre for Brisbane not welcomed by all

Australian War Memorial expansion
Treloar Crescent, Campbell ACT 2612

The Australian War Memorial is currently undergoing a $550 million development from 2022-2028. New developments include an oculus in the Southern Entrance and the new Anzac Hall. The proposed new Southern Entrance and upgraded Parade ground are slated to be complete in 2024. Additional gallery fitouts, refurbishments and landscaping works will begin in 2025 to be completed in 2028. The Memorial remains open to the public during the works.

Architecture render of Pier Pavilion by SPRESSER. Image: Courtesy of SPRESSER.

Pier Pavilion
Watermans Cove, Barangaroo NSW 2000

Pier Pavilion is set to be a new landmark and vibrant community space. In 2023, Stage 1 substructure works were completed, which provided foundations for the structure on the pier to prepare for Stage 2 led by Stephen Edwards Construction. The 2020 national design competition received more than 170 entries from architects across Australia. The winning design is by architects Jessica Spresser and Peter Besley.

Canberra Theatre Centre redevelopment
Civic Square, London Court, Canberra ACT 2601

The Canberra Theatre Centre transformation will be led by a world-class design consortium, consisting of Architectus, Danish architectural practice Henning Larsen and international theatre designer ARUP. The team’s winning tender included early preliminary designs that depict a new theatre building with a bold and sophisticated façade treatment, which references the formal modernist and brutalist landmarks of Canberra. Design, consultation and approval processes will continue into 2024 and will inform planning for the project’s construction phase.

Roxy Community Theatre
114 Pine Avenue, Leeton NSW 2705

Leeton Shire Council’s $4.4 million refurbishment of Leeton’s historic Roxy Theatre is currently underway. The development aims to make the venue more accessible and versatile, and help conserve the heritage building. Improved functionality of the theatre is forecast to bring a 190% increase in cultural content, shows and performances.

Heysen Gallery
Adelaide Hills, SA

A third iteration of plans were revealed in 2023 for a new cultural precinct in Adelaide Hills featuring a $9 million two-storey gallery to showcase the private collection of the Heysen family. German-born Australian landscape artist Hans Heysen migrated to Adelaide in 1884 and his daughter, Nora Heysen, was a portrait artist who became the first woman to win the Archibald prize in 1938. The gallery will exhibit the works of the two Heysens, along with their collection of art and cultural artefacts.

Flinders Civic Hall redevelopment
56 Cook Street, Flinders VIC 3929

Flinders Civic Hall is undergoing a $6.1 million redevelopment to meet current and future user needs with a new design that completely rebuilds the existing site. The venue includes a main hall with elevated stage, large terrace area, backstage areas, multipurpose rooms and more. The current Flinders Civic Hall opened in 1966 and since then there have been several minor refurbishments and a small extension on the north‐west corner. The Hall has experienced ongoing cracking in the solid brick walls going back to at least the mid‐1990s. Completion was anticipated for November 2023 with further updates yet to be announced.

Wollondilly Cultural Precinct
Picton, NSW 2571

The Wollondilly Cultural Precinct transformation project is expected to bring a substantial $723 million in economic benefits for the Picton town centre, the broader Wollondilly community, Council employees and other service organisations. The project includes Shire Hall refurbishments, a Library extension and a new Children’s Services building, with the new performing arts centre currently underway. The precinct is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2026.

Architectural render for the Wollondilly Performing Arts Centre. Image: Supplied.

Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. Most recently she took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne.