A Geek’s Guide to Brisbane

Out of the outback and back to geeky business in Brisbane, this city has made it so easy to get back in touch with my geeky side, so much so that Brisbane may just be the best city to be a geek on the cheap! 

What do I mean by this?

Well its major art galleries and museums are free to enter, yes that’s right FREE. The last museum I visited for free was TMAG in Hobart, and every other museum Ive visited so far in Australia has ranged in entry from gold coin donation to $25. 

It’s been refreshingly budget friendly to indulge myself in one of my favourite things to do whilst travelling. So much so that the lack of entry fees meant that I decided to pay to visit two special and very exciting exhibitions.

If you’re a geek like me and heading to Brisbane, I’ve scouted the best places in the city to get your geek on!

Museum of Brisbane

Located in the City Hall, the museum of Brisbane should be your first port of call. The museum offers an introduction to the city that can’t be beaten, and you’ll leave knowing all you want to know and more about the river city.

Named after Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of NSW at the time the area was founded, Brisbane started out like most Australian cities as a penal colony. Over time it became the thriving capital of Queensland, the museum’s exhibits are all linked with the common theme of social history interlinked with public memory, from the origin of Brisbane through to present day perceptions. The mixture of traditional exhibition styles, mixed with short films and interactive exhibits make for a varied and well-thought out museum which introduces Brisbane through the people’s voice.

In addition to the museum you are able to explore the city hall, as well as enjoying a free tour of the clock towering offering great views of King George Square.

Queensland Museum

Located next door to Queensland Art Gallery, the Queensland museum focuses on all aspects of Queensland history. Though I have to say it’s strengths lay with its exhibition on Australian natural and prehistory, as opposed to social history, the museum provides a well-rounded collection of exhibits.

In particular its exhibition on dinosaurs is especially impressive and provides the perfect introduction to Australia’s age of dinosaurs. I only discovered that Australia had dinosaurs when I went and lived in Winton, and many artefacts including a plaster copy of the dinosaur stampede from Lark Quarry were featured in the exhibit. Queensland Museum incorporates these artefacts alongside gigantic displays of fossils and interactive displays featuring 3D scans of artefacts so that visitors are able to engage fully with all aspects of dinosaur excavation.

Queensland Museum is currently running a special exhibition Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum, and as an amateur classicist I had to check it out. For me I went into the exhibition paying close attention to how the exhibit presented the history of gladiators and the significance of gladiatorial games in Roman society, my main concern was whether or not the exhibit would over-sensationalise gladiators as they have been in pop-culture.

Though the exhibition had a tendency to generalise the lives and personalities of gladiators (there was no use of case studies into famous gladiators or discussion of stories from source material, which is most likely down to the lack of evidence out there). I was impressed by the use of Latin terminology to explain the origins of gladiatorial games, alongside their political and cultural significance.

What most impressed me about the exhibit, however, was the section on the Colosseum and its construction, I have to say that I learned more about the Colosseum here than I did at university or the two times I’ve visited it.

There was an opportunity to try on replica helmets which I was reluctant to try on, however the guide in charge of the helmets was enthusiastic and told me they were lighter than the originals, as well as assuming me there were female gladiators too. It makes such a difference to have exhibitions tended by enthusiastic and attentive staff.

The Gladiator exhibition cost me $20 to enter, which is pretty pricey considering they did offer me a concession rate with my YHA card, however I would say that if you are interested in ancient history or gladiators for that matter to check it out as it is a very entertaining exhibit.


The Australians love using acronyms for their art galleries and Brisbane loves them so much that they use QAGOMA to link their two galleries: Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Comprising of two separate buildings, the galleries are free to enter and are located over the Victoria Bridge across the road from Southbank.

Queensland Art Gallery is home to a wide range of artwork ranging from pottery to modern art, aboriginal art work and more. The gallery is set in a beautiful modern building with large windows and there are seats around every corner for you to take in the art or the studying scenery surrounding the gallery.

GOMA on the other hand is home to a cinema and a gallery of modern art. At the moment the gallery is hosting a massive Marvel Cinematic Universe exhibition which I couldn’t help but visit. I’m not the biggest comic book fan, and only saw Captain America: Civil War last year with a friend to get out of revising for my Roman Life Stories exam, I didn’t understand what was going on apart from there was a lot of punching. I haven’t seen any of the Iron Man films either.

When I saw the adverts for the exhibition I knew I had friends at home that would give their right leg to see the costumes and set pieces up close. I can’t lie I honestly loved this exhibition, so much thought had gone into that I didn’t even feel lost as a result of my lack of Marvel knowledge, in fact helpfully halfway through the exhibition there was a display where each of the Marvel universe films, starting with Iron Man and finishing with Thor: Rangnorak which explained the story of each movie and which superheroes/ villains from the universe were involved.

Towards the end of the exhibit were some really amazing interactive displays, there was a place where you could stand in front of a screen with Iron Man on it and if you moved your body it would copy your actions. And even more interesting was the part focussed on how music is produced for the movies, including an area with a mix board where you could alter the volume of the dialogue, FX and score to appreciate how these add to the overall production.

What I thought was a really cool touch was the chance at the end to stand in front of a green screen and have a photo taken where you’re super-imposed on to your favourite Marvel Universe movie poster. I chose Thor as one of the Thor films was filmed at my university, and the fact you didn’t have to pay for the photo was the best bit.

Entry to the exhibition was $25 which is pretty reasonable for the quality and content of the exhibition. Whether you’re a comic book geek or not, the Marvel exhibition at GOMA is not to be missed!

And there you have it a geek’s guide to Brisbane handily catering itself to geeks on a budget and those willing to splurge on exhibitions.

Consider yourself a geek and travelling around Australia? Let me know your geeky hotspots in the comments below!

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