Located on Sydney’s iconic harbour Circular Quay. I was not very impressed!

Painting by Misheck Masamvu 2019 on the top floor of the museum

I thought that because this museum was free and on Sydney’s iconic harbour, it would be worth a look. Housed in a striking building with Art Deco features on one side and modern concrete and glass structure at the other, I did have some hopeful expectations for some exciting art inside. I was wrong. I think I left after around 15-20 minutes.  

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The cool front entrance
I thought this building was very cool and to the left it is attached to an art deco building

The ground floor. Where do I start? If contemporary art is your thing, then you might find this intriguing, but I did not. The first room is filled with a jumble of different artifacts, with no real theme. There are some interesting aboriginal photographs and an emotional sewing piece dedicated to a Rossy Smith, but if you skipped this section, I don’t think it would be the end of the world.  

The first room. Not really worth a look
A lovely sewing piece dedicated to a Rossy Smith

The next exhibition across the foyer is a little better, but again everything displayed here is still a bit of a mishmash! Some lovely aboriginal paintings are hanging in the center of the exhibition and a wall of thought-provoking photos adorned the wall. But behind the images, you have a replica of Captain Cook’s 2nd ship, The Discovery. It’s a bit strange and maybe even disrespectful to display the famous explorer’s ship around aboriginal artwork! But that’s just my opinion.

I love the aboriginal photo’s in the background to the left
Modern aboriginal art pieces
A replica of Captain Cooks ship

The top floor is the museums saving grace! There are some colourful paintings in the first section, followed by a display of digeridoo’s, but some rooms I just thought were pointless, showing videos of people talking that were shot from different angles. I ended up walking out of the room. Then


you walk through a strange hallway, filled with what I can only describe as black drapes, which look like a painter and decorator has placed sheets down before starting painting. It seems so pointless. I don’t know what they were trying to achieve here. But stick with it because you will come to a photography exhibition, filled with beautiful black and white pictures.

The strange long hallway, looking like it was in the process of redecoration, but actually leads to a great photography exhibition
Photo’s by Zanele Muholi

A striking photo of a black lady wearing white lipstick with white tape covering parts of her body gives the print a sharp contrast. I was instantly drawn to this image as it is so beautiful. She is used as the subject for lots of other great photos here too. The picture’s in this room were taken by Zanele Muholi, who isn’t someone I am familiar with, but for me, these photographs made it worthwhile visiting the museum.

140 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW 2000 |

How stunning is this photo? Taken by Zanele Muholi
Photo’s by Zanele Muholi

Thanks for reading my post on the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. I must have walked past this museum hundreds of times before venturing inside. Despite not being a fan of modern art, I really thought it would be worth a look, but I I didn’t stay for very long as I was so bored. The only exhibition that hold my attention was the photography section on the third floor. And what on earth is the deal with the black sheets hanging in the hallway?! If you do plan on visiting, then I hope you have a more enjoyable experience than I did!

Are you planning Are you planning on visiting Sydney in the future? Is the Museum of Contemporary Art on your list of places you want to visit? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Photo’s by Zanele Muholi

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