QVMAG: Launceston’s Fascinating Museum And Art Gallery

QVMAG is a place we always try to visit and should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Launceston.

Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, more commonly abbreviated to QVMAG, is a smorgasbord of art, science and history in the heart of Launceston in Northern Tasmania.

Spread over two massive locations, including the kid-friendly interactive museum and planetarium located in Inveresk and the more adult-focused art gallery located in Royal Park.

QVMAG: Launceston Art Gallery

QVMAG Art Gallery is situated in a beautiful old two-story building surrounded by parklands. It’s home to a mix of temporary and permanent exhibits. Such as the Guan Di Temple, Our Chinese Treasures and The First Tasmanians.

Guan Di Temple

With the alluvial tin and gold mining boom of the 1880’s, many people, including the Chinese, moved to North East Tasmania to join the hunt.

Ultimately, with this influx of people, small towns began springing up between Launceston and St Helens, and with them, many small Chinese shrines were built. The route connecting these mining towns was called the trail of the tin dragon.

After the Tasmanian mining boom started to slow down, many of these small mining towns were abandoned, and with them, the Chinese shrines were closed.

Intricate Chinese wood carving
Intricate Chinese carving

Objects from these abandoned shrines were slowly gathered together into one collection and donated to QVMAG. This collection was used to create the temple of Guan Di, the Taoist god of war and Buddhist protector.

Ornate golden shrine to the Chinese god Guan Di
Guan Di shrine

Housed inside a wooden temple at the QVMAG Art Gallery, the collection is filled with colourful plaques, intricate carvings, ornate weapons, beautiful shrines and much more, all with information about the objects, their use and their origins.

Our Chinese Treasures: The Wong Collection

The Wong Collection is a range of antiques showcasing cultural objects from differing periods of Chinese history. The collection is a beautiful array of objects including statues, glassware and detailed carvings.

Chinese carving in stone
Chinese carving
Chinese terracotta horse
Chinese terracotta horse

The First Tasmanians: Our Story

We loved this exhibit and spent most of our time reading all the fascinating information on the history, culture and lifestyle of the Aboriginal people of Tasmania.

The exhibit shows almost all facets of Aboriginal life in Tasmania. Covering such things as the types of food they ate, how they hunted and the shelters they built.

You’ll learn how they crafted stone tools, weapons, jewellery and clothing to survive the harsh Tasmanian weather. And how they created and transported fire around the island by carrying hot coals to quickly establish new camps.

Aboriginal shelter replica constructed with sticks and long grasses
Aboriginal shelter replica

Not only that, you’ll discover how the Aboriginal people migrated to Tasmania. And eventually became isolated by rising water levels cutting the land bridge to the mainland, around 14,000 years ago

Aboriginal water carrier creates with sticks and dried kelp
Kelp water carrier

It’s an amazing exhibit and one not to miss.

QVMAG: Launceston Museum And Planetarium

The QVMAG Museum and Planetarium is a huge complex spread between a mixture of modern buildings and the old disused Launceston railway workshop and yards.

Like the Art Gallery, it’s home to a mix of temporary and permanent exhibits. The permanent exhibits housed at the museum include Tasmanian Connections, Tasmanian Tiger, Sydney Cove Collection, Phenomena Factory, Transforming The Island, Southern Skies and The Blacksmiths Workshop.

Tasmanian Connections

Tasmanian Connections is probably the largest of the displays at QVMAG. It’s a massive collection of eclectic items covering a wide spectrum of unique subjects.

A collection of giant beetles ranging in colour from black to shiny green and orange
Collection of colourful beetles

The room is filled with unique vehicles. Like the polished Alfa Romeo and it’s blinding shiny metal finish, an assortment of bicycles, horse-drawn buggies and a very early model caravan. Look up and you’ll even see planes from different eras suspended above your head.

Dominating the room are two main displays. One filled with a wide variety of taxidermy animals and every child’s favourite, a display filled with giant dinosaur skeletons.

Dinosaur skeleton collection at QVMAG Launceston
Collection of Dinosaurs

Tasmanian Tiger: Precious Little Remains

Learn about one of the largest carnivorous marsupials, the Thylacine. More commonly called the Tasmanian Tiger.

The exhibit has a wealth of information about this unique animal covering its behaviour, physiology and ultimately, it’s tragic demise and extinction. Although that depends on who you ask, as some believe it’s still out roaming the wilds of Tasmania.

The Sydney Cove Collection

A highlight for all you beer lovers out there, is the story of the ship the Sydney Cove and the tale behind Preservation Ale.

The short version of the story. A ship named the Sydney Cove sailed from Calcutta, India to Port Jackson, Australia, carrying wines, spirits, ales, timber and other supplies.

Now I’m not saying a boat full of booze was to blame, because I don’t know the real reason. But the ship hit a sandbar and sank near Preservation Island off Tasmania’s North Coast.

Fast forward 200 years to salvage divers discovering the lost sunken ship and retrieving some of the beer bottles from the icy depths.

Miraculously, it was discovered that the yeast in the beer was still alive! And with some tender loving care, the yeast was extracted, grown and used to brew Preservation Ale.

This was eventually sold as the limited edition “The Wreck” preservation ale by James Squire.

Three beer bottles in a display cabinet
The original and new brews

Phenomena Factory

If you have children, this is the place to bring them!

Filled with wacky contraptions, science experiments and interactive displays, the Phenomena Factory is both fun and educational.

Use the interactive displays to test your reflexes or learn how much energy your body generates. Witness a miniature tornado form before your eyes or how the power of sound at differing frequencies can move objects.

Arch bridge made out of blocks
Build and climb

Watch how liquid viscosity can change the speed of air bubbles or risk nausea by walking through the brain tricking Perception Tunnel. Is it moving? Or is it all in your perception?

The Phenomena Factory carries on outside in the courtyard with lots more fun contraptions. Speak to each other from across the courtyard by using the whispering walls or watch the power of friction by building the arch bridge. Or test your strength using the pulleys systems, play some tunes on the musical instruments or watch the giant water wheel in action.

Large yellow satellite disk used as a whisper wall
The Whisper Wall is lots of fun

Transforming The Island

Dedicated to industry and all things trains, transforming the island details the impact the railway had on Tasmania. How they created an industrial boom and helped promote tourism and growth in isolated townships.

The Tasmanian rail system was so large that during its peak more than 290 railway stations could be found throughout the island. Becoming the lifeline of many remote towns without road access.

Vintage rail engine housed at QVMAG museum in Launceston, Tasmania
Vintage rail engine

The exhibit has some beautifully restored engines and some interesting machinery used to maintain the railways.

Southern Skies And Planetarium

Southern Skies is for all you space-loving astronomy fans and covers the pursuit and advancement of astronomy in Tasmania.

The exhibit showcases the equipment used, information of astronomy in Tasmania, and a heap of astronomy memorabilia including rockets, telescopes and more.

The planetarium screens a collection of fascinating movies on space travel, exploration, black holes and more. We viewed Dawn of the Space Age and enjoyed it immensely.

Compressor Room And The Blacksmiths Workshop

Outside there’s a collection of old railway buildings. Most buildings remain closed to the public and just display information boards about their previous use. However, the Compressor Room and The Blacksmiths Workshop are open to the public and well worth a visit.

Large collection of blacksmith tools and anvils
Wide array of blacksmith tools

The Compressor Room is relatively small and only takes a few minutes to check out.

It houses the giant electrical system that used to power the train yard. And a massive compressor that powered all the hydraulic equipment used in the train yards.

The Blacksmith Workshop is the most interesting of the two buildings. It houses equipment used in the maintenance of the railway and trains.

Huge forges, massive steam-powered hammers, grinders and all the other tools you could imagine were required to maintain such massive machines.

Large steam powered blacksmith hammer
Large steam-powered hammer in the Blacksmiths Workshop

Stepping into the workshop feels like a step back in time. The scent of the forges still lingers in the air. Almost like the workshop was suddenly abandoned and all the workers simply put their tools down and walked away, never to return.

Cafe

The onsite cafe produces tasty food at a very reasonable price. You can even dine inside an old train carriage, which is fun for train lovers.

Entry Price

Entry to both QVMAG sites is free.

Exceptions: Planetarium (See prices below)

  • Child: 5.50 AUD
  • Adult: 7.50 AUD
  • Family: 20 AUD

Opening Hours

QVMAG is open daily from 10:00-16:00.

Exceptions: Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday

Check the official website for up to date information.

Facilities

  • Toilets
  • Seating
  • Car park
  • Gift shop
  • Drinks
  • Snacks
  • Meals

Location

QVMAG: Launceston Museum And Planetarium

Address: 2 Invermay Road, Invermay. Tasmania, Australia.

Click to view map to Queen Victoria Museum.

QVMAG: Launceston Art Gallery

Address: 8/2-8 Wellington St, Launceston. Tasmania, Australia.

Click to view map to Art Gallery.

Additional Information

  • Backpacks cannot be worn in either facility, but secure lockers are available for free
  • The local sports stadium is located behind the Launceston museum and during an event, it can be difficult to get a car park
  • If you wish to visit the art gallery, we recommend using the car park at the museum and catching the free tiger bus to the art gallery. This is due to limited parking near the art gallery and parking at the museum only costing $3 a day

Conclusion

We love QVMAG. The Launceston Museum and Planetarium is one of the best things to do in Launceston in our opinion. While the Launceston Art Gallery has some fascinating and educational exhibits.

Both sites have a great mix of history and education, with the museum being more scientific orientated with more fun activities to keep children entertained. And they’re both free! Which is amazing!

Be prepared to spend a fair amount of time between both sites. We easily spent three hours at the Launceston Museum and two hours at the Launceston Art Gallery. There is just so much to see and do.

Nearby Attractions

  • Launceston Tramway Museum
  • Cataract Gorge
  • James Boag Brewery
This site contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. If you make a purchase via these links, we receive a referral commission, without any extra cost to you. This helps us fund the blog and continue to share our content with you. Read our legal page for more info.

Share this post on social media

Join For exclusive updates

Join now

Leave a Comment