It's theatrical and fine art to a tea
Kelli Cole, Jacqueline Chlanda, Caitlin Taylor, Siobhan Ion enjoy high tea at the National Gallery. Photo: Jay Cronan
Opulent scenes from night-time Paris, immortalised in the artworks of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, have inspired a new level of luxury at the National Gallery of Australia.
It has opened a blockbuster exhibition of the 19th century artist's work and has begun serving Parisian high tea in the gallery for the first time, in the aptly named Lautrec's Tea Salon.
Head of commercial operations Elizabeth Malone said the gallery had sought to add to the experience for visitors who bought tickets to the exhibition and so had created the ''pop-up'' tea salon.
Lautrecs Tea Salon at the National Gallery of Australia, which will be serving Parisian high tea every day, except for Christmas day. Photo: Jay Cronan
The gallery also has a ''pop-up'' gift shop at the end of the exhibition space, selling all manner of Toulouse-Lautrec souvenirs, from parasols to tutus.
The Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition is an important retrospective that has brought together more than 100 paintings, posters and drawings.
Tickets for high tea in the salon can be purchased online when visitors are paying for tickets to the exhibition.
It has already proved popular, with sessions selling out in advance.
''This is the first tea salon we have done at the gallery,'' Ms Malone said.
''A lot of people are moving about half-way through the exhibition and are then coming out for tea and going back in again.''
High tea at the salon includes a selection of finger sandwiches, scones, afternoon tea delicacies, Mariage Freres French leaf tea, coffee and the option of champagne.
''High tea has become so popular around the world,'' Ms Malone said.
''I think this was definitely the right exhibition to have it with, here at the gallery.''
Many Canberrans will view the Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris and the Moulin Rouge exhibition for free this weekend, thanks to a ticket give-away by ActewAGL.
The utilities company has sent its customers complimentary ActewAGL Essentials coupons, for one ticket per household, which must be redeemed at the National Gallery of Australia's front desk.
Canberrans who would like additional tickets for family and friends this weekend can buy them at the gallery.
The special ActewAGL weekend will be conducted in half-hour sessions on Saturday from 10am-5.30pm and on Sunday from 10am-3.30pm, subject to availability.
Parisian high tea is being served every day, except Christmas Day, at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketek.