Versailles: Treasures from the Palace family review
If you’re off to Canberra these school holidays, don’t miss this new and exciting National Gallery of Australia exhibition – Versailles: Treasures from the Palace. Plus kids are free!
The National Gallery of Australia (NGA), Canberra, is a wonderful art gallery to take the family to. There’s so much to see – the Sydney Nolan Ned Kelly gallery, incredible Asian artefacts, fabulous Aboriginal art, and of course the multi-million dollar Jackson Pollack’s Blue Poles (currently on loan to Britain). Right now the NGA is also hosting a very special and exclusive exhibition – Versailles: Treasures from the Palace!
Running now until 17 April 2017, Versailles: Treasures from the Palace is an exciting collection of fabulous pieces originating from the French palace of Versailles. The exhibition is very special, because these amazing pieces of French history are travelling for the very first time!
This fascinating exhibition is housed in several adjoining rooms in the NGA, and features numerous magnificent masterpiece paintings – and so much more. There are massive tapestries and rugs, ornate furniture and accessories, an enormous statue from the famous Versailles garden fountains and lead animals from the old Labyrinth maze. There are so many incredible antiques to look and wonder at, and all of them right here in Australia for a limited time.
How much does the Versailles exhibition cost?
Although the NGA has free general admission, the Versailles exhibition is a ticketed event (adults $27, concession $25), however children 16 and under do receive free admission with a paying adult. Both of my kids received free entry with just myself holding one adult ticket – and that’s always a good thing!
Additional cost – audio tours
For an extra cost you can take an audio tour through the Versailles exhibit. This is essentially an ipod with headphones, pre-loaded with 3 main tours – a children’s, adult’s and music tour. You can flick between the tours at will by selecting each according to the symbol on the different art pieces.
I found myself listening to all of the different audio tours as we walked around, as did my 11yo. I really enjoyed playing the vintage French music in the background as I wandered around the exhibit – it really enhanced the atmosphere! My 9yo opted just for the children’s tour, and I think the fact that it was narrated by children helped her to identify with the stories of particular pieces.
Each audio tour is approximately one hour long, and costs $7. I would definitely recommend spending the extra money on an audio tour for everyone, because you get so much more out of the exhibition.
A beautiful Versailles shopping experience
When you emerge from the exhibition, hang on to your purse strings! The Versailles exhibition souvenir shop is a gorgeous collection of French-inspired items of luxury, decadence and delight. Beautiful smells and sights will tempt you to spend-spend-spend! Oh well – c’est la vie!
A special kids NGA Versailles play area
In the main lobby area of the Gallery you’ll find the special kid’s Versailles “NGA Play” area.
This is a fantastic feature for the kids, with the opportunity for children to play on slides, model for funny French royalty photographs, and even make their own golden crowns in a brilliant replica Hall of Mirrors! Leave some time for this fun area, which is free for all ages – not just Versailles ticket-holders.
National Gallery of Australia dining options
There are two cafés on site at the NGA if you get peckish during your visit – an indoor and outdoor café. We ate at the indoor café, which had been decorated in the Versailles theme. Kids meals are available there, and there are some special Versailles cake creations on offer for desert, too!
If you decide to bring along a picnic for lunch, there are plenty of areas outside to sit and enjoy the sculpture gardens. Perhaps you might like to take a short stroll down to Lake Burley Griffin for a bit of sight-seeing and coffee by the lake. Close neighbours to the National Gallery of Australia include the National Portrait Gallery next-door, Questacon National Museum of Science and the National Library. All are great individual tourist destinations in their own right.
So what’s the Versailles exhibition really like?
To get a feel of what this exhibition is like, take a quick YouTube video walk through with me, here
How to get to the NGA
By car – the National Gallery of Australia is approximately three hours drive from Sydney city – perfect for a weekend getaway. Pay parking is available underneath the NGA (ours cost $12 for 5 hours).
By bus – The Murrays bus service runs from Sydney to Canberra daily. Action buses are Canberra’s connecting local ACT public transport service.
By air – you can fly direct from Sydney or Melbourne to Canberra in under an hour, making this a do-able day trip. The National Gallery of Australia is a twenty minute taxi ride from the airport.
Would you like to visit the Versailles exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra? Tell us in the comments below…
Let’s go Mum were not paid to review this attraction – all opinions in this article are our own.