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Address: 2 Watson Rd. | National Trust Centre, Observatory Hill, Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia
Phone Number:
+61 2 9258 0123
See all hours
Tue - Sun 11:00 - 17:00
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours

The S.H. Ervin Gallery is one of Sydney ’s leading public art institutions...

The S.H. Ervin Gallery is one of Sydney ’s leading public art institutions housed in the historic National Trust Centre on Observatory Hill, The Rocks in Sydney. The Gallery’s exhibition program is designed to explore the richness and diversity of Australian art, both historical and contemporary, and present it in new contexts. The Gallery is renowned for encouraging research and promoting scholarly appraisal of artists from all periods of Australian art history. In addition, the S.H. Ervin Gallery has developed an excellent name for presenting important exhibitions and programs that recognise the valuable contribution made by Australian women artists.

The Gallery building dates from 1856, when it was designed by Henry Robertson as additional classroom accommodation for the expanding Fort Street School (which later became Fort Street Girl’s School in 1916).The school operated on the site until the early 1970s. Around this time, philanthropist and collector, Samuel Henry Ervin offered a bequest for the establishment of a public art gallery committed to the display of Australian art. The National Trust secured the lease of the former Fort Street Girls’ School buildings from the NSW Department of Public Works. Following restoration of the buildings, the S.H. Ervin Gallery was officially opened in May 1978, by NSW Premier Neville Wran, with an exhibition of works by Conrad Martens.


The S.H. Ervin Gallery hosts seven exhibitions each year, including travelling exhibitions, which focus on the work of Australian artists. The Gallery has presented major survey exhibitions of artists including Clarice Beckett, Albert Tucker, Violet Teague, Kathleen O'Connor, Margo Lewers, Jean Bellette, William Robinson and John Coburn. The S.H. Ervin Gallery also hosts popular annual shows including the Salon des Refuses: The alternative Archibald and Wynne Prize, and the Portia Geach Memorial Award for women artists.

Gallery Location: We are accessible by car from Upper Fort Street only, not the Bradfield Highway

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 16 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 6
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    Very good
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  • 1
Contemporary Australian Art Gallery

A competitive exhibition of portraits by Australian women artists was currently on display. A great selection of paintings in different media in different styles by women artists... read more

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 16 December 2016
Antony S
Bangkok, Thailand
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16 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 16: English reviews
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
17 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

A very pleasant walk through the Rocks and then ascending the stairs of the Argyle Cut, you reach the Gallery which was once part of Fort St Girls High. The Margaret Olley exhibition was delightful and beautifully presented. There were also a number of art works by other Australian artists. I was delighted with my visit.

Level Contributor
252 reviews
115 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 February 2017 via mobile

We visited this gallery to view the Margaret Ollie exhibition and were delighted to find it in such a unique location. The heritage building is very beautiful and in an amazing location. The staff were friendly and helpful.

Thank harrytravellers
SHErvinGallery, Curatorial Assistant at S.H. Ervin Gallery, responded to this review

Dear Harrytravellers, We are very happy that you enjoyed not only the Olley exhibition, but our heritage venue and location as well. We have six exhibitions a year focusing on Australian art and in particular Australian contemporary art. We hope you will come and visit us again in the future. Kind Regards, Antony Skinner Curatorial Assistant & Gallery Administrator. More 

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
19 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 January 2017 via mobile

At a friend's suggestion we met at the QVB and then walked to the Ervin gallery to view the Margaret Olley exhibition. The walk up through the rocks was lovely and the view en route spectacular with vistas across the harbour. The lady in charge of the front desk was very friendly, helpful and informative. We made a booking at... More 

Thank Jenny S
SHErvinGallery, Curatorial Assistant at S.H. Ervin Gallery, responded to this review

Dear Jenny, On behalf of the Director of the S. H. Ervin Gallery and the National Trust (NSW), I thank you for the positive feedback on your visit. We are happy you had an enjoyable experience at the Gallery and cafe. We hope that you will come and visit us again soon. The Olley exhibition is on until 26 March... More 

Bangkok, Thailand
Level Contributor
14 reviews
5 attraction reviews
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 December 2016

A competitive exhibition of portraits by Australian women artists was currently on display. A great selection of paintings in different media in different styles by women artists both established and upcoming. The gallery has a program of different exhibitions throughout the year exhibiting only Australian artists, from historical through to contemporary.

Thank Antony S
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
21 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 October 2016

We are regular visitors to the Gallery for new exhibitions, and enjoy the professionalism of the volunteers and the excellent displays of artworks. However we have given up on the cafe. It is in a pleasant spot next to the gallery and should be ideal for light lunch, but after a succession of very average lunches there we have decided... More 

1 Thank BillT146
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 June 2016

On February 17 at 12.30 I took my niece to lunch at the Gallery Cafe. The only table for two was at the rear beside the door. We waited some time, there were few waitresses and none came near us so I went to the counter and enquired. I was told our table was reserved but said we hadn't seen... More 

2 Thank Chrissy67_13
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 January 2016

Perched on the top of Observatory Hill in Sydney's The Rocks area is a wonderful art gallery and cafe run under the auspices of the National Trust. It's a wonderful old building that in the early days was a hospital. The exhibition space is open and pleasant and the array and quality of exhibitions available rarely disappoints - big congrats... More 

Thank Bill Y
Level Contributor
31 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 December 2015

The S.H. Ervin Gallery belongs to the Australian National Trust and is situated on Observatory Hill above The Rocks. It is hard to find the road to it but worth the trouble! They have very good small exhibitions of art and have a cafe attached where you can eat a simple lunch. The NT have a small shop there with... More 

1 Thank kvcoventry
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 August 2015

The S H Ervin Gallery is a great gallery, volunteers are helpful and warm. The Trust Cafe associated with the gallery wrecked our visit. On our last visit, the staff, both management and waitress, were unusually rude to us. This had actually happened not just once, but several times in subsequent visits. When I remarked to the waitress that we... More 

3 Thank Jane B
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
977 reviews
554 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 312 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 December 2014

This is not the easiest gallery in the world to get to, and it's safe to say most Sydney residents do not go to it as often as they could/should. You have to go down toward The Rocks and circle around a bit, by car or on foot, climbing Observatory Hill. Up quite high above the rest of Millers Point... More 

Thank Alys-Schatzi

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