NGV Italia: new initiative celebrates Italian art and culture at the NGV

NGV Italia: new initiative celebrates Italian art and culture at the NGV

Presented in partnership with the Italian Australian Foundation, NGV Italia is a new three-year series of learning and community programs that celebrate the indelible contribution of Italian artists and designers to global and Australian history and culture.

Drawing inspiration from the NGV’s leading collection of Italian art and design, which spans from the early Renaissance period through to the twenty-first century, NGV Italia offers all audiences the chance to engage with Italian creativity, history, language and culture.

NGV Italia will introduce audiences to triumphant works by great eighteenth-century Venetian painters Tiepolo, Canaletto and Bellotto; Old Master drawings and prints; vibrantly colourful Venetian glass from the island of Murano; icons of Italian modernist design from the twentieth century, including Ettore Sottsass and Massimo Vignelli, through to contemporary practitioners.

Highlights from the NGV Italia program include a new annual lecture series, Portraits of Italy, which explores major cultural cities through the eye of works in the NGV Collection. Further highlights include free tours of the NGV’s rich holdings of Italian art offered in both English and Italian language, and for seniors in the Italian-Australian community, Coffee and Culture includes a tour presented in Italian followed by coffee and informal conversation. For adult learners, Chat Italiano offers evening sessions inviting participants to practice their language skills and deepen their appreciation of Italian art and design after-hours at the Gallery.

Students in primary and secondary schools will have the opportunity to explore Italian art, language and culture throughout the school year in educator-led sessions at NGV, including Draw like an Italian Master which introduces students to the works and techniques of Correggio, Lavinia Fontana and Giambattista Tiepolo.

NGV Italia also features professional development opportunities for teachers, including an annual professional learning program that introduces teachers of the Italian language to important works, artists and movements in the NGV Collection as a way of enriching language teaching.

An Italian community day in 2025 will welcome all members of the community to celebrate Italian art and culture in an afternoon of family-friendly activities, demonstrations, film screenings and tours for all ages. 

As part of NGV Italia, the NGV website will also host a dedicated online hub for Italian art and design, establishing a rich and lasting creative legacy for the program. The site will feature images, videos and essays in both English and Italian, researched and written by NGV curators, specialist conservators and international art experts. 

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: ‘The NGV Collection is home to rich stories of Italian art, culture and life, as told through art and objects spanning two millennia. Through this brand-new program, produced in collaboration with the Italian Australian Foundation, we are delighted to be introducing new audiences to Italian culture and language, as well as fostering deep and ongoing connections with our local Italian-Australian community.’

Rhonda Barro, President, Italian Australian Foundation, said: ‘NGV Italia, a collaboration between the Italian Australian Foundation and the National Gallery of Victoria, is best represented by Giambattista Tiepolo’s monumental The Banquet of Cleopatra. This 18th Century painting by a Venetian artist made its long and circuitous journey to Australia and has now become a part of the story of the NGV, as one of the most famous works in the gallery’s collection. In many ways, the painting’s story mirrors the journey of the Italians who have migrated to Australia and are now an integral part of contemporary Australia.

‘We are excited by this new three-year partnership, which will provide creative learning and social experiences, foster connections between the NGV and Victoria’s Italian community, including families, students, seniors and community groups.’

NGV Italia began last month and can be enjoyed now.

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