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  • Doug McKinstry

    Chairman of the Cairns Art Gallery

    Email Doug McKinstry

    Free entry at the Cairns Art Gallery


    It’s safe to say that the decision to introduce free entry to the Cairns Art Gallery has been one of the most important in our recent history. But it is also a decision that has not been taken lightly.

    To recap, the gallery board and management have decided that from 1 September this year, entry to the Cairns Art Gallery will be free.

    This is an exciting new chapter in the twenty year history of the Gallery as it means that locals and tourists alike will be able to freely access and enjoy all that the Gallery has to offer, including nationally and internationally recognised exhibitions drawn from public and private collections from around Australia.

    As Gallery Chair, I am delighted with this decision. It is important to note however that the Board of Directors has taken a cautious approach to removing the admission fee.

    We have trialled regular free entry periods to evaluate how free admission could increase attendances and sales from the Gallery shop. The results were extremely positive.

    Over the past two decades, most public galleries across Australia have moved to free entry, with the Cairns Art Gallery being one of only two regionally based galleries in Australia to still charge an admission fee.

    Everywhere you go in Australia and around the world, the vast majority of public art galleries offer free entry.



    I am particularly proud that all the hard work by management, staff and the board over recent years has paid off, and that we are now able to demonstrate that we can support free entry through excellent programming and income generated by our strategically aligned entrepreneurial activities.

    I encourage the Cairns community to join us at the Gallery and enjoy free entry to high quality exhibitions. For example, we are proud to present Abstraction, an exhibition celebrating Australian women abstract artists that brings together major works from the National Gallery of Australia. Abstraction will open at the Gallery on 15 September and will run until 26 November.

    I’m sure high calibre exhibitions such as Abstraction will now reach a broader audience due to our decision to introduce free entry to the Gallery. Bringing more art to more people in Far North Queensland is one of the Gallery’s key objectives, and we’re delighted to take another step forward towards meeting that important goal.