Tony is a leading figure in the Australian arts sector and Director of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). He began his career as an Aboriginal Art Coordinator, working at Waringarri Aboriginal Arts, Kununurra; then worked as a Curator at the NGV, specialising in major international curatorial projects. He was Director, Bendigo Art Gallery; Deputy Director – International Art, NGV and Director of the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) prior to returning to the NGV as Director in August 2012.
Under Tony Ellwood’s stewardship, the National Gallery of Victoria has become the most visited gallery in Australia. He is unafraid to test boundaries, and through a series of blockbuster exhibitions has made the NGV an exciting and accessible part of the community.
He has overseen many significant exhibitions in Australia during the past decade. These have included: Contemporary Australia: Optimism (2008); Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future (2010); 21st Century: Art in the First Decade (2010); Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams (2011); Matisse: Drawing Life (2011) and Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado (2012) at QAGOMA and Monet’s Garden (2013); Melbourne Now (2013) Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court (2014) The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the sidewalk to the catwalk (2014); Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great (2015) and Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei (2015-16), Degas: A New Vision (2016) David Hockney: Current (2016) Van Gogh and the Seasons (2017), The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture (2017) and the inaugural NGV Triennial (2017-18) at the NGV. He has also written and edited numerous publications and articles.
Tony has been on several state and Commonwealth boards, including the Visions of Australia Committee, Museums Australia National Board, Victorian College of the Arts Board and Academic committee; the Art Exhibitions Australia Board and the Japan-Australia Foundation Board. Tony was also on the selection committees for the 2005 and 2009 Venice Biennales. Tony was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia and Doctor of Arts honoris causa (RMIT University) in 2018. In 2019 Honorary Doctorate (Deakin University) and Doctor of Letters honoris causa (La Trobe University).