There’s been a lot of buzz, excitement and plenty of criticism, and now you can make up your own mind. The largest and most ambitious exhibition in the history of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Now, is finally open this weekend.

Spanning contemporary art, design, architecture, fashion and performance art, Melbourne Now reflects the vast cultural landscape of Melbourne through the works of over 400 established and emerging local artists and curators across both NGV sites.

There are so many works on show that you wouldn’t want attempt it all in one day anyway, but you can certainly make a start this weekend. From Daniel Crook’s arresting ‘time-splice’ video exploration of Melbourne’s laneways to Ross Coulter’s photographs of 165 scattered paper planes in the State Library, and Ash Keating’s epic ‘painting performance’, there’s just so much to see.

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Aside from the main exhibition itself, here are five things we think are worth checking out on the opening weekend of Melbourne Now.

Community Hall
Designed by leading architecture practice McBride Charles Ryan, Community Hall at NGV International will present over 600 events and function as a main site during the exhibition. Resembling an amphitheatre, the purpose-built space will provide a sound place to start navigating your way around the exhibition. This weekend Community Hall presents talks with some of Melbourne Now’s participating artists and sets from DJ Principal Blackman and Darren Sylvester among other festivities.

The Kitchen Garden
Located within the Grollo Equiset Sculpture Garden at NGV International, the Kitchen Garden is part of Foodscape, an installation devised by award-winning practice Urban Commons that looks at the way we grow, prepare, and enjoy food in urban spaces. The innovative garden invites visitors to plant and look after a kitchen garden, which will result in a harvest towards the end of the exhibition. Designed in a way that incorporates social and relaxing spaces, the garden has been interspersed with sculptural works from Caleb Shea, Louise Paramor and Cameron Robbins.

Sensory indoor garden by Lauren Berkowitz
Often dealing with issues relating to the environment, artist Lauren Berkowitz has created a striking six-metre long indoor garden at the Ian Potter Centre. Berkowitz has used found objects such as recycled plastic pots, bottles, and takeaway containers to plant edible and medicinal plants that have healing properties in traditional and western medicine. The garden also includes traditional indigenous bush foods and medicinal plants of the Wurundjeri people. The garden is a proposal for renewal and sustainability, which is a recurring theme throughout the exhibition.

The House House House of P.A.M.
Perks and Mini (P.A.M.) is one of several independent fashion designers taking part in Melbourne Now. Best known for their bold prints and inventive clothing designs, P.A.M. have been at the forefront of independent fashion in Melbourne for more than a decade. Located on the third level of NGV International, P.A.M. have put together a multidisciplinary installation and film that captures the label’s free spirit within the context of an underground nightclub. The duo behind the label, Misha Hollenbach and Shauna Toohey, were recently featured on the cover of the NGV’s relaunched Gallery magazine.

Reading Room by SIBLING
Design collective SIBLING has designed a reading room displaying a selection of independent art magazines and journals that provide and facilitate art discourse in Melbourne. Located at the Ian Potter Centre, the publications on display include Un Magazine, Discipline, Vault, Higher Arc, and West Space Journal as well as publications from small press such as Surpllus, 3-Ply, and The Narrows.

Melbourne Now is on at NGV International and NGV Australia from 22 November to 23 March.