The cultural hub of Dubbo.
A sophisticated art gallery and museum with a well-curated schedule of exhibitions, the Western Plains Cultural Centre will happily claim hours of your time without you even noticing. The Centre is located within the charming buildings of the old Dubbo High School, with a large extension forming the contemporary art gallery. This marriage of architectural styles creates an aesthetic that is modern and clean, yet undeniably proud and true to its history, much like Dubbo itself.
The Dubbo Regional Gallery occupies the newer part of the building. A sprawling space with polished concrete floors and moveable walls, it can happily house three exhibitions at a time, depending on the space required.
During our visit there was a new media exhibition entitled Scanlines from Sydney-based dLux MediaArts, one of Australia’s leading media and screen arts organisations. A collection of interactive screens played archived new media content in a darkened section of the gallery, while in the adjoining space an exhibition entitled Wildside explored the connection between humanity and the animal kingdom via a range of artistic mediums, including taxidermy, painting, photography and film. There was even a giant manta ray made out of Lego. This focus on theme rather than a specific medium allows the gallery to exhibit a broader range of work, which makes for a really interesting experience for visitors.
In addition to hosting revered national exhibitions – include the Archibald Prize – the Dubbo Regional Gallery is also dedicated to supporting local artists. Its Home Ground program encourages emerging regional artists to prepare a proposal for an exhibition, which is then judged by a panel of experts. The successful applicants are given 12 months to produce a body of work for the exhibition, under the mentorship of curators at the gallery. The artists are then involved in the installation and execution of their exhibition. This provides invaluable experience exhibiting professionally and serves as a platform to launch or further their artistic careers.
The gallery also hosts workshops, events and talks to engage locals and visitors alike with the wonderful world of art.
The Dubbo Regional Museum is in the older part of the building, and is divided into two spaces: a temporary exhibition space for travelling and curated shows, and a permanent space for the People, Places, Possessions: Dubbo Stories collection, which fills the old school hall. During our visit the temporary space was inhabited by a travelling architectural exhibition showcasing unique Australian homes; the museum’s curators plan up to two years in advance for bespoke exhibitions to fill this space.
The People, Places, Possessions exhibition tells the story of Dubbo, with historical items relaying tales of yesteryear and a photographic streetscape spanning an entire wall detailing how the town has evolved through nearly 200 years of settlement. The original classrooms stem from this central hall, most of which are now repurposed as function rooms and offices, but one is perfectly restored as an early 20th Century classroom complete with writing desks, historical books and even a cane sitting ominously on the teacher’s desk. Visitors are free to wander around this classroom, sit at the desks and flick through the old books.
Progressive and dynamic, the Western Plains Cultural Centre showcases the best of regional art and is a wonderful place to visit for locals and travellers alike. Grab a coffee from the Outlook Café and wile away a couple of hours exploring the ever-changing exhibitions of this fantastic facility.
The Western Plains Cultural Centre is located at 76 Wingewarra St, Dubbo, NSW. Click here for more information.