Straddling two sites in Launceston, Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery (QVMAG) is Australia's largest regional museum and was established in 1891 at the Royal Park location. The former 1870s-era railway yards at Inveresk were developed and opened in 2001 and now houses the natural history and museum collections. The refurbished art gallery at Royal Park reopened in 2011.
The museum at Inveresk is home to the permanent collection ‘Tasmanian Connections' which tells the tale of the state through QVMAG's social history and natural science collections and includes dinosaurs, death masks, suspended planes and remnants from Australia's oldest merchant shipwreck. There's also displays of the extinct thylacine or Tasmanian tiger, an interactive science centre onsite and the popular planetarium, which hosts twice-daily shows projected using state-of-the-art equipment onto the dome. Museum entry is free, however admission to the planetarium is AU$5 for adults and AU$3 for children aged over five years.
Over at Royal Park, the gallery site is devoted to fine arts, including Tasmanian colonial paintings and modern and contemporary Australian art; and decorative arts and design traversing Tasmanian craft and design, as well as ceramics, textiles and costumes from Asia, Europe, Britain and Australia. The Royal Park site boasts 10 galleries with permanent and temporary exhibitions, the Guan di Temple and ArtsSparks! Family Art Space. The Guan di Temple exhibit houses the contents from a number of now-closed Chinese temples from northeastern Tasmanian mining towns. The still-working temple offers an interesting insight into the religious lives of Chinese migrant workers in the 1880s. Entry to the art gallery is also free.
To visit both sites easily, the free, local council-run Tiger Bus operates daily on weekdays and shuttles between the QVMAG museum, planetarium and art gallery as well as other Launceston attractions. The River Explorer 30-minute Loop runs between 10:30am and 3:30pm.