MCA ARTBAR JANuary 2017 Sydney

ARTBAR at the MCA: art, drinks, music, dancing, and fireworks

The last Friday of each month turns the Museum of Contemporary Art into ARTBAR: a late-night haven for all things cultural. Be it visiting the rotating exhibitions, interacting with arts and crafts, or listening to music — it’s all at the MCA. And what would ARTBAR be without a bar or two?

This is where I went wrong, dear reader. At January’s ARTBAR, my +1 and I entered the MCA and ascended the stairs to find a popup bar in the main foyer. Giddy with excitement over the live music, we instantly bought ourselves a drink. Rookie mistake, folks. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a wine on the first floor. I’m just saying that you must also have a wine on the top floor rooftop.

MCA ARTBAR JANuary 2017 Sydney

The MCA’s hidden secret: it contains one of the best view in Sydney. Hands down. Ascend to the cafe and, on ARTBAR evenings, grab a drink at the bar while you dance to the DJ.

ARTBAR is not just about the bar, of course — its dual focus is on the art. You have full access to the entire museum and its 4,000 items. We started on the ground floor with the Primavera 25 collection. A white parrot in front of a neon wall; numbers that flip — it’s hard to believe all the artworks are created by people under age 25.

MCA ARTBAR JANuary 2017 Sydney

One of the main draws of ARTBAR, of course, is that you get free entry into their special exhibits. Tatsuo Miyajima: Connect With Everything is presently on display. The Japanese artist (who’s also the inspiration for the popup Cherry Blossom Bar outside the MCA) has several rooms devoted to his works revolving around digital technology and time.

Seeing us flabbergasted by the mound of coal in one piece, the friendly docent explained that six tons were shipped from Newcastle. What the MCA will do with it afterwards is anyone’s guess. My suggestion: sell it for parents to put in children’s stockings at Christmas.

January’s event was a nod to Chinese New Year, and curated by Chinese-Australian artist Louise Zhang. We took a foray into the arts & crafts room, where everyone could make headpieces out of paper.

We were lured upstairs by the sounds of drums. The Lion dancers merrily lead the crowds through art-filled rooms.

MCA ARTBAR JANuary 2017 Sydney

But the most spectacular moment of the evening was when a staff member rushed over to tell us: ‘There are fireworks — head to the rooftop!’ Yes indeed, the Sydney Opera House was bathed in red light as fireworks exploded overhead to celebrate CNY. The MCA couldn’t have planned a better Friday night in Sydney.

– Theresa
The Plus Ones’ co-founder, Theresa knows that ARTBAR will be part of her monthly schedule from now on.

ARTBAR runs the last Friday of the month at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Sign up on the mailing list or Facebook to stay in the know.
The venue is accessible.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of the MCA.
Image credit: Sam Whiteside.