Walk from Flinders Street through the Atrium – a unique passageway of glass, steel and zinc – or from the Plaza through the similarly narrow Crossbar to reach the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, named in honour of Sir Ian Potter (1902–94), a local financier, philanthropist and patron of the arts. Occupying three floors, the centre showcases one of the best collections of Australian art in the country. The gallery is split between traditional and contemporary indigenous art, historic and modern Australian collections, and special temporary exhibitions. The stylish Crossbar café on the third floor has views of the Yarra and serves good snacks and drinks.
The building itself is as much a work of art as its exhibits, constructed from two overlapping wings forming a slightly crooked X and offering constantly shifting views, with glimpses of the Yarra and the parklands through the glass walls in the southern part of the building. The best way to get a handle on the collection, as well as the building, is to participate in a free guided tour of the main collection. Additional tours focus on specific aspects of the collection.