With an average attendance of more than 100,000 visitors a year, the Ipswich Art Gallery is one of the most visited regional art galleries in Australia. The Gallery is a visual arts and social history museum presenting a dynamic program of exhibitions and heritage displays with complementary workshops, performances and an extensive program for children and families.
The Ipswich Art Gallery’s Children’s Gallery is an Australian first. It is the country’s first permanent, interactive children’s gallery space designed for the under-twelves, with specific programs aimed at the early childhood, lower primary and upper primary age ranges. Learn more about the Children’s Gallery.
The Ipswich Art Gallery was originally opened in the foyer of the Town Hall in March 1951. In 1980 the Gallery was relocated to the former St Paul’s Young Men’s Hall (now the Ipswich Community Gallery), gaining its first professional Gallery Director in 1985. After extensive community consultation and with the support of donations made to the Ipswich Arts Foundation, the Gallery was relaunched in 1999 and once again sited in the beautifully restored old Town Hall.
About the Building
This heritage-listed building was originally the Mechanics’ School of Arts, built for a cost of 150 pounds and opened in 1861 by Governor Bowen. In 1864, the building was extended to the Brisbane Street frontage. By 1869, the Ipswich Municipal Council had moved in and the building became the Town Hall for the people of Ipswich.
For more than a century the Town Hall was a significant site in the public life of Ipswich, playing host to a gala dinner for the Prince of Wales in 1920, wartime dances for American armed forces in the 1940s and everything from roller-skating to immunisation clinics. It was even briefly home to the city’s department store after fire destroyed Reids in 1985.
In 1999, the building was renovated and extended, to again provide the cultural hub of the city. Heritage features have been restored, including the magnificent proscenium arch, scissor beam roof and arched windows. The hall, which was the hub of community life for over 100 years, has taken on a new life as a major public art gallery and museum.