Dodge the droves and catch the curator's choice: National Gallery of Australia curator Simeran Maxwell helps visitors get the most out of the NGA's blockbuster Monet: Impression Sunrise exhibition, now showing in Canberra.
Earlybirds get an exclusive hour with greatness with a premium entry to the exhibition on weekends: slip in at 9am for an exclusive viewing before the doors open to general entry at 10am, every Saturday and Sunday. Costs $55 for adults, $45 for NGA members. Otherwise, Monet Mondays let you stay late, from 5-7pm, to enjoy the exhibition with music and perhaps a glass of Perrier-Jouet champagne from the bar.
My pick is The Pont de l'Europe. Gare Saint-Lazare (1877), painted five years after the top work in the show, Impression, Sunrise, (1872), so I feel he is handling his subject with more confidence. I adore the way he handles steam and smoke coming from the trains. It's almost like you can see the clouds forming and dispersing in front of your eyes. Keep your eye out for the recurring subject of industrialisation in France: railways, factories, bridges, working ports, and his use of colour – for instance, the sun in Impression is unexpected: neon orange, turquoise, hot pink and mauve. Monet rarely uses black and white.
Experience the landscape of Canberra replicated in the Monet works, such as the sun rising through early-morning fog over Lake Burley Griffin or haystacks in the beautiful country wine region in Murrumbateman or Gundaroo. Otherwise, visit Monet's Garden in Giverny, France and see the bridges, ponds and water lilies actual landscapes that inspired his most famous works.
If you can't make it to the capital for the exhibition, visit the largest collection of Monet works in the world at the Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris. If you miss Impression, Sunrise, you'll find it here, as it is rarely loaned out from its beloved home. See marmottan.fr
Monet's Tea Salon is held daily and twice daily on weekends until September 1, with a French-inspired high tea in the National Gallery's old foyer. High tea and entrance to the exhibition costs $70 adults, $60 NGA members.
Monet: Impression Sunrise runs until September 1 and costs $22 adult, $20 student/concession, $17 NGA Member. Entrance is free for children 16 and under. Book online at nga.gov.au/impressionsunrise or ticketek.com.au