March 2020
Welcome to the latest issue of e-news from The University of Melbourne Museums and Collections. This electronic newsletter is circulated each month and provides information on current exhibitions, events and news items from the University’s museums and collections. For details of the individual collections explore the Museums and Collections website.


2020 Museums and Collections Projects Program – new projects now available

The 2020 Projects List will be available via the Museums and Collections Projects Program (MCPP) website from Friday 28 February. The projects are ideal for students, alumni and other interested individuals who are keen to work behind the scenes with the University's museums and cultural collections. On offer are collection management, curatorial and public program focused projects. These projects are designed to provide engaging and specialised experiences that have real value for participants through the acquisition of new vocational skills and professional development.

Engaging with a wide range of the University’s museums and collections, the projects offered this year include cataloguing, research and interpretation, preventative conservation, public programs, curation and exhibition development. In addition to providing a unique and enriching experience for participants, the projects also benefit the cultural collections by contributing to their long-term management ensuring they remain an accessible, relevant and dynamic resource for the University and wider community.

Image: MCPP participant working on a project with the Baillieu Library Rare Books Collection. Photograph Helen Arnoldi


In 2020 the University of Melbourne will be participating in the international #ColourOurCollections festival, making four #ColourOurCollections bookmarks available at libraries across the Parkville campus and at Southbank.

The bookmarks feature illustrations from books dating from the late 17th to early 18th centuries, known as 'headpieces'. Printers used (and re-used) these decorative images to head a new section of a book or an extended musical work such as an opera. Their original purpose, then, was as a bookmark of a different sort.

The images come from items found in the Hanson-Dyer Music collection, which came to the Special Collections Rare Music Collection at the University of Melbourne in 2005. It comprises 245 music books purchased by Melbourne woman Louise Hanson-Dyer during 1929-1931, when she first made Paris her home. The following year Hanson-Dyer established her own music publishing house, Editions de l’Oiseau-Lyre (Lyrebird Press), which she ran in Paris and Monaco for 30 years. Her achievements, both as an expatriate Australian publisher of music and sound recordings and as a supporter of the arts more generally, were extraordinary.

#ColourOurCollections will incorporate a competition open to currently enrolled students. Four $50 Coles Myer gift vouchers will be given away to the best entries, two per month for February and March. To be in the draw to win, students must upload their design to Instagram or Twitter and tag @unilibrary using #ColourOurCollections.

Image: Coloured bookmarks featuring illustrations from the Hanson-Dyer Music Collection. Special Collections, University of Melbourne Library

Alisa Bunbury awarded a National Library of Australia Fellowship in Curatorial Research

Alisa Bunbury, Grimwade Collection Curator at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, has been awarded a National Library of Australia Fellowship in Curatorial Research, which allows her to undertake twelve weeks of focused research accessing the Library’s rich collection of colonial art and textual material. Alisa’s project is to research the visual imagery depicting Norfolk Island that was created during the various stages of its settlement during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Chanced upon by James Cook in the Resolution in 1774, Norfolk Island was settled as a penal outpost in 1788, only six weeks after Sydney.

Drawings, watercolours, maps, published illustrations and, later, photographs show the difficulties of contact and communication with its steep cliffs and dangerous reef; the clearing of the land for agricultural purposes; the indigenous flora and fauna (some of which is now extinct); and the built environment, including the long-demolished first settlement (1788-1814) and the later penitentiary buildings (1825-55), the ruins of which are now World Heritage listed. This research will complement her research into books collected and bequeathed by Sir Russell Grimwade, now housed in the University of Melbourne’s Special Collections. Alisa will be on leave from her Grimwade position between March and May of this year.

Image: Alisa Bunbury

Your chance to help the Potter curate its next big collection show

Staff at the Ian Potter Museum of Art are currently busy putting together a massive collection show to celebrate the Potter’s re-opening in late 2020 and are keen to hear from its audiences about their favourite artworks. With over 16,000 objects to select from, the Potter welcomes your suggestions.

So explore the University of Melbourne Art Collection and get in touch. To submit details of your favourite artwork please email the Potter.

Image: Peter Casamento, Ian Potter Museum of Art [detail], n.d.

Peep at a vue d’optique in the Baillieu Library Print Collection

The 18th century gave us the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the lightning rod. It also gave us the less well known vue d’optique, a type of print that was viewed with a zograscope. These scenic prints were designed to be seen through an optical device comprising a lens and mirror which combined to form an experience commonly called a ‘peep show.’

Logically, perspective played an important role in these pre-photographic images because depth gave the picture the ability to advance and recede before the eyes of the viewer. They also offered the viewer the chance to travel by picture to far away destinations. Vue d’optique were exported around Europe and America, and notably, to Japan where they are credited with introducing Western perspective to Japanese printmakers.

Vue d’optique are identifiable by their use of extreme perspective, contrasting colours and by their titles which are printed in reverse.

The Baillieu Library Print Collection holds two vue d’optique; the most striking being a late 18th century depiction of the facade of the Louvre in Paris gifted to the University by Russell Beedles in 2012.  More

Image: Vue de la Facade du Louvre à Paris [detail], 1770-90. Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne.  Gift of Russell Beedles, 2012

Grainger Museum receives important donation

The Grainger Museum is extremely grateful to David Rezits for the donation of a published score of the two-piano version of Lincolnshire Posy, autographed by Percy Grainger.

Some say Percy Grainger's 1937 composition, Lincolnshire Posy, is his masterwork. It's a suite of six brilliantly arranged folk melodies, or 'musical wildflowers' that Grainger collected together with Lucy Broadwood on field trips in Lincolnshire, UK, around 1905-6. The piece reflects his fascination not only for folk songs, but in particular for the individual personalities of the singers he encountered during these folk song collecting outings.

Lincolnshire Posy was groundbreaking in the way Grainger disregarded conventional approaches to setting folk music in favour of irregular and erratic (and sometimes completely absent) meter, bespoke ornamentation and stylistically varied expression. The result is a collection of six snapshots of very different performances, each of which vividly portray the unique personalities and styles of the singers from whom Grainger learned the source material.

Image: Front cover of Percy Grainger: Lincolnshire Posy, for military band, version for two pianos, no 35, published by Schott & Co, London, 1940. Grainger Museum Collection, University of Melbourne. Donated by David Rezits in memory of his father, Joseph Rezits (1925-2019), 2020


Kecak: The Vocal Chanting of Bali

Old Quad, Friday 28 February 2020, 2.00-2.30pm

Traditional Balinese music will fill Old Quad as a celebration of the upcoming Multivocal exhibition opening on 23 March. The Kecak dance of Bali is one of the most iconic performing arts in the world. A communal artistic form, known to the Western world as 'The Monkey Dance', Kecak integrates vocal music, dance and drama. The ultimate artistic beauty of Kecak lies in its intricate vocal chanting.

Since 2016, Kecak has been introduced to Theatre students at the Victorian College of the Arts under the training and direction of esteemed Balinese Kecak master, I Wayan Dibia. This Kecak dance performance is the first to be performed by students in Australia. A series of free performances will take place across a range of Melbourne’s most iconic public spaces, including at Old Quad.

Don’t miss the chance to see this traditional Balinese art form up close at Old Quad. No bookings required.

This performance is part of Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts and in partnership with The Victorian College of the Arts.

Image: VCA students rehearse for Kecak Dance: The vocal chanting of Bali

Up from the Vaults: As the river flows

Old Quad, Tuesday 10 March 2020, 1.00-2.00pm

The changing shape of Birrarung (Yarra River)

In the first outing of the Ian Potter Museum of Art's ‘Up from the Vaults’ series for 2020, Dr Liz Dean from the University of Melbourne's School of Social and Political Sciences will explore the significance of Birrarung (the Yarra River).

In 2017 the Victorian Government implemented the landmark Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017; legislation which recognises the Yarra River as a living entity and acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as its traditional custodians, while also protecting the river for future generations.

In granting the rights of the river, the boundaries of ownership are put into question. It also creates a focus on Indigenous representations of the Birrarung/Yarra River and on Indigenous knowledge of and care for the river, how rivers shape themselves and how the settler state altered the Yarra River. More

Free event. Further information and bookings.

Image: James Buckingham Philp and Edmund Thomas, Prince's Bridge (from south side of Yarra), Melbourne [detail], 1853. The University of Melbourne Art Collection. Gift of the Russell and Mab Grimwade Bequest 1973

Exhibitions at The University of Melbourne

Take a Breath

Noel Shaw Gallery, Baillieu Library, from Monday 2 March 2020

Take a Breath is an exhibition in the Noel Shaw Gallery of the Baillieu Library, a space to relax and find inspiration on long days of work and study.  
Featuring eclectic items from the Archives and Special Collections, the exhibition includes rare and historic maps, music, books, art, and archival ephemera.  These collections are part of the rich scholarly resources available to students and researchers at the University of Melbourne.   
There are also spaces for visitors to #colourourcollections, read, rest, and de-stress with breathing exercises.  Taking time for oneself to rest the eyes, stretch the legs, engage the creative brain, and breathe is an important practice for productive study and general wellbeing.
Relax, refresh, refocus: Take a Breath

Image: Solder wearing gas mask, University of Melbourne, c.1915. University of Melbourne Archives

The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis

Buxton Contemporary, from Friday 6 March 2020 
What confrontations, complexities, critiques and conundra emerge when art adopts the perspective of the alien?

The implications of this anthropic inversion proliferate throughout Xenogenesis, the first major solo exhibition of The Otolith Group in Australia, which brings together a cross-section of influential artworks from 2013 to 2018. The works selected are linked by The Otolith Group’s concern to formulate a science fiction of the present using historical and contemporary images and sounds. By treating the technologies of images, sounds, voices and colours as narrative vehicles for transtemporal travel, the artists seek to re-imagine the contemporary global crises that ‘we’ have inherited from colonialism, re-narrate the ways in which humans have shaped the planet, and reconfigure the ways that ‘we’ are changing in response to new technologies. Curated by Annie Fletcher. More

Image: The Otolith Group, O Horizon, 2018 [still detail], original format 4K video, colour, sound, duration 90 min, courtesy of The Otolith Group and LUX, London, © the artists


Old Quad Treasury, from Monday 23 March 2020

Multivocal celebrates the creation, performance and experience of music at the University of Melbourne, past and present. Showcasing the cultural collections of the University that focus on music in its many forms, the objects in the exhibition provide a platform for contemporary responses to a long history of musical activity in this place, in the form of new commissions and performance-based events.

This exhibition ranges across a spectrum of engagement in music, including academically-driven formal musical education in performance, therapy, research and innovative compositional practice, student-led musical societies, and encompassing musical traditions and contemporary practice across Indigenous and international music. Multivocal opens windows onto the great diversity of ways in which music has enriched the lives of people in the University community and beyond.

Image: Sebastian and Pierre Errards [makers], Orchestral harp, 1835. Grainger Museum Collection, University of Melbourne

Quad Collections   

Old Quad, East Bay Room, ground floor, from Monday 23 March 2020

Integral to the identity of the University of Melbourne are the myriad ways tradition underpins all areas of university life. To launch each new year, a Wominjeka (Welcome) event on the Parkville Campus acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, upon whose land we study and work. This Welcome to Country, which includes a Smoking Ceremony, is arguably one of the oldest rituals in the world.

Following this traditional welcome, each academic year proceeds in conjunction with the ceremonies that underscore the purpose of such an institution. Graduations, announcements, openings, processions, dedications, retirements, awards, orientations, and even memorial services all come together to define the unique identity of an institution still holding strong to its values of tradition while simultaneously progressing its own contemporary identity.  

The Quad Collections display at Old Quad showcases the University’s most significant ceremonial objects. These tangible pieces of history shed light on the communities that came together to build the University of Melbourne, and include the heritage Council Chamber furniture, the University mace, and Mandy Nicholson’s possum skin cloak, among other highlights.

Image: Mandy Nicholson, Possum Skin Cloak, 2014. University of Melbourne Collection   

How it plays: Innovations in percussion

Grainger Museum, to Thursday 7 June 2020

How it plays: Innovations in percussion is a collaborative exhibition and performance project including Grainger Museum, Federation Handbells (Museums Victoria/Creative Victoria), Speak Percussion, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music and the Melbourne School of Design.

The exhibition explores radical innovations in percussion, focussed on Melbourne, that have changed the way we can all hear and play music, ranging from Percy Grainger’s ‘tuneful percussion’ in the early twentieth century, to the present, with the Federation Handbells and the trailblazing organisation, Speak Percussion.

Image: J.C. Deagan (designer/maker), Percy Aldridge Grainger (designer/maker), Staff Bells, 1916. Grainger Museum Collection, University of Melbourne. Photograph Peter Casamento

The Roots of Burnley: Exploring a long history of significance to the Victorian community

Level 1, Main Administration Building, University of Melbourne Burnley Campus, to 28 June 2020

The exhibition The Roots of Burnley: Exploring a long history of significance to the Victorian community offers an insight into the history of Burnley Gardens and the Burnley campus in the Victorian landscape. Eight panels with historical photographs and documents illustrate the strong connection people had
and still havewith Burnley.   

The exhibition is a walk through time from the beginnings of the campus as experimental gardens to today’s modern University campus. Opening in 1861, the Burnley site has continually adapted to cater to the needs of the community. With content primarily sourced from the archives collection, the exhibition not only reflects on this rich history, but provides an outlook on the future of the Burnley campus. Curated by Meg Hibbert and Jane Wilson.

Image: Perle des jardins glass slide, Burnley Campus Archives, University of Melbourne

Dentistry: Innovation and Education

Medical History Museum, to 30 August 2020

2019 celebrated the 135th anniversary of the establishment of the Odontological Society of Victoria in 1884, which brought about the development of the first dental school in the State. The organization consisted of a group of trained dentists and was modelled on the Odontological Society of Great Britain, established in 1856. The Australian College of Dentistry was established in 1897 and affiliated with the University of Melbourne in a process that formalised dental education and further legitimised dental practice and research.

This exhibition showcases the development of dental practice, education and public health in Victoria through the collections of the Henry Forman Atkinson Museum, Medical History Museum, Australian Dental Association (Victoria) and University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Image: Dental students, 1912, Presented to J. Iliffe Esq. from the Melbourne Dental Students' Society 1912 [detail]. Henry Forman Atkinson Dental Museum, University of Melbourne


Arts West, to Tuesday 1 October 2020

One of the most important anthropological collections in the world, the Donald Thomson Collection includes almost 7500 artefacts and 2000 biological specimens collected mainly on Cape York, Arnhem Land and from the Great Sandy Desert and the Gibson Desert of Western Australia, during the University of Melbourne anthropologist's 50-year career. Donald Thomson's ethnohistory collection is included in the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World register.

Professor Thomson's wife Dorita Thomson made a generous gift of the collection of objects into the care of the University of Melbourne. This, along with the photographs, film and field notes owned by the Thomson family, have been on long-term loan to Museums Victoria from the University and the Thomson family since 1973. The Thomson family's own collection is featured in the Awaken exhibition, including handwritten notes, postcards sent to his family and Professor Thomson's typewriter.

Image: Installation view of Awaken, Arts West, University of Melbourne

A National Museum

Old Quad Library, level 1, to Friday 18 December 2020

Viewing by appointment only

Old Quad has functioned in many different capacities over the last 160 years. In one of its many iterations, the Old Quad housed the National Museum of Victoria (now Museum Victoria) between 1856-63. Championed by professor Frederick McCoy (1817-99), the University’s own collection rapidly grew to include items from the areas of zoology, mining technology, geology and agriculture, which today form part of the earliest cultural collections held by the University of Melbourne.

A National Museum embraces not only the history of the National Museum at Old Quad, but this moment as a pivotal spark towards a legacy of University-wide collecting. Today the University's collection is one of the largest and most significant in Australia, representing 60,000 years of Indigenous knowledge, 200 years of engagement with European heritage, and generations of migrant stories up to and including the present day.

A National Museum is supported by the Tiegs Museum, the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology, and the F.A. Singleton Earth Sciences Collection.

Image: Samuel Calvert, Interior of University Museum, Melbourne [detail], 1862. Courtesy of State Library Victoria

More exhibitions

For a full list of exhibitions and associated events at the University of Melbourne, visit the websites of the individual galleries and museums.

Ian Potter Museum of Art

Margaret Lawrence Gallery

George Paton Gallery

The Dax Centre

Science Gallery Melbourne

Burke Gallery, Trinity College

Buxton Contemporary

Old Quad

Image: Medical History Museum

University of Melbourne Collections

Issue 25 of the University of Melbourne Collections magazine is now available.

In this issue read about the VCA Film and Television Collection; women’s art in the Germaine Greer Archives; early 20th-century anthropological plaster casts in the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology; the Japanese Room in the Glyn Davis Building and much more.


News from the Grainger Museum

Subscribe to the Grainger Museums e-News to receive monthly updates on exhibitions, events and news about the collections and activities.  

Image: Installation view of How it Plays: Innovations in percussion
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