150 years of iconic motorcycles to be celebrated at GOMA

In a world exclusive, ‘The Motorcycle’ promises to showcase one of the most spectacular and priceless collections of motorised two-wheel travel to be seen under one roof anywhere in the world.

More than 100 motorcycles drawn from private and public collections across the globe will go on display at GOMA when ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ opens at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) from 28 November 2020 to 26 April 2021.

MegolaccTouringModel Bonhams
Megola Sport , Germany 1922
Courtesy: Guggenheim Museum, New York
Photographer: David Heald

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Director Chris Saines

“The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ includes the earliest 19th century steam-powered motorcycle, right through to electric motorcycles and exciting design propositions for the future. Over its 150-year history, the motorcycle has undergone extraordinary reinvention, from steam power to petrol fuelled internal combustion engines to battery, and from humble backyard creations to custom-made, high-tech chrome speed machines. More than just a means of transport, the motorcycle is a design object, with forms and styles that reflect innumerable cultural and societal influences. We look forward to presenting this comprehensive survey of a universal machine designed to inspire freedom and escape through affordable mobility. At this turning point in the way the world thinks about powered transport,‘The Motorcycle’ will be a timely celebration of exquisite design and a look at what the future holds. The exhibition will include interactive experiences for visitors, and appeal not only to bike and motor sport enthusiasts but to anyone curious about social history, popular culture, design and technology.”

Velocipede OR
Michaux – Perreaux steam vélocipède 1869
Collection du musée du domaine départemental. Photograph: Olivier Ravoire

Situated in the now very trendy Southbank precinct of Brisbane, GOMA is surrounded by restaurants and hotels that draw tourists and locals alike.

Gallery of Modern Art GOMA
Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

Next summer they will also be able to enjoy a visual feast that showcases many of the most iconic, innovative and influential motorcycles created over the last 150 years.

‘The Motorcycle’ is curated by renowned design curators, physicist Professor Charles M. Falco in conjunction with writer and film maker Ultan Guilfoyle, in collaboration with QAGOMA.


A snapshot of highlights

A 1868 Michaux-Perraux, the first steam powered velocipede and oldest known motorcycle in the world.

The earliest Australian designed and built machines including a Spencer produced in Brisbane in 1906.

VincentccBlackLightning Bonhams
Vincent Black Lightning, Australia 1951
Image courtesy: Bonhams

A 1951 Vincent Black Lightning that set an Australian land speed record in its day and more recently a world record for the highest price paid at auction for a motorcycle…

Symbols of speed from a 1930s Triumph Speed Twin to a 1970s Ducati 750 Super Sport to the 1990s Britten V1000.

BrittenV TePapa
Britten Motorcycle Company Ltd , Christchurch.
Britten V1000 motorcycle 1991. Purchased 1995 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Collection: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Off-road motorcycles highlighting a rich history of bikes built for dust and dirt.

Customised motorcycles at the intersection of art and design.

Ultra-modern electric motorcycles, demonstrating the future of transportation in the age of renewable energy.


Majestic ODeVaulx
Majestic 350 , France 1930
Photographer: Olivier de Vaulx

The exhibition will be accompanied by a public program, Up Late program and specially curated film program, along with a major hardcover publication. ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art Desire’ is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland. Minister for Science and the Arts Leeanne Enoch officially announced the show to the press at GOMA.

MegolaccTouringModel Bonhams
Megola Sport , Germany 1922
Courtesy: Guggenheim Museum, New York
Photographer: David Heald

Minister for Science and the Arts Leeanne Enoch

“The Queensland Government is providing funding of $4 million over two years (2019-20 and 2020-21) to support QAGOMA to show exclusive exhibitions like this in Queensland, attract visitors to our state and enhance our reputation as a globally significant visual arts destination.”

Leeanne Enoch
Minister for Science and the Arts Leeanne Enoch

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones

“We invest in events because they support local jobs. Tourists want to experience something they can’t get anywhere else when they’re on holiday. Bringing this exhibition exclusively to Queensland will be a major draw card for thousands of tourists. We expect this exhibition alone to generate more than 63,000 visitor nights for local businesses. To date, the Palaszczuk Government’s support for exclusive exhibitions through QAGOMA has generated almost $85 million, with close to 78,000 people travelling to Queensland specifically for these events. When it comes to major events, we’ve got the runs on the board. We’ve more than doubled the value of Queensland’s major events calendar which will generate around $880 million for our state in 2020.”

Majestic ODeVaulx
Majestic 350 , France 1930
Photographer: Olivier de Vaulx

Tickets to ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ are now on sale at www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/themotorcycle