This week a friend and I went on a fabulous day outing to Canberra and I thought you might find it of interest. We took the 7am CountryLink train to Canberra with first class tickets which turned out to be a great idea as we got lots of room and great service. After having breakfast and reading the paper we arrived in Canberra around 11ish.
We were met by our tour guide for the day and transferred by maxi-cab, along with seven other tourists, to our first stop at the National Library at which we had timed entry tickets to Handwritten - ten centuries of manuscripts from the Berlin State Library. This extraordinary exhibition features 100 unique manuscript treasures spanning more than 1000 years of history, the exhibition includes exquisite illuminated manuscripts, rare letters, sketches and documents and priceless musical scores. Beethoven, Galileo, Michelangelo and Napoleon are just some of the many names represented in this exhibition. Whilst most are in German with no translations available it was the scores of famous operas which I found fascinating.
Next stop was the National Portrait Gallery which I hadn’t visited before. I could have done with more than the given hour and a half but got to wiz through the permanent collection – it will need a revisit to do it justice. It’s a lovely building and has a terrific terraced cafe which was our lunch spot.
We arrived at the main game of the day the National Gallery of Australia just in time for our 2 pm timed enter to Renaissance – 15th & 16th century Italian paintings. And what a show this is, these treasures are on loan from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Italy. Borrowing from its marvellous collection is only possible because the Accademia is renovating its display spaces, and the museum is temporarily closed. The works range from poignant depictions of the Madonna and Child, Bible stories, the lives of the saints and moving renditions of the Crucifixion to insightful images of nobles and patricians.
We saw painting by such masters as Raphael, Botticelli and Bellini which have never been seen outside of Italy before. The exhibition is well shown and with timed crowd control we really were left to enjoy them in space. I know it’s not for everyone but I think if you wanted to give yourself over to its overt sacred vibe you will be very moved and delighted. These here were just two of many that I found wonderful.
Botticelli, Christ the Redeemer, 1495
Raphael, Saint Sebastian, 1502
At 4.30 pm we were transferred back to the station and our trip home was highlighted by a half decent diner and several glasses of local wine; back at Central about 9.30. Travelling first class on CountryLink, gallery transfers, a guide and all tickets to the exhibitions cost $170 each (refreshments extra) and Renaissance is on till 9 April.