Museums and Collections

March 2019

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.


2019 Museums and Collections Projects Program – new projects now available

The 2019 Projects List is now available via the Museums and Collections Projects Program (MCPP) website. 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. The collection management, curatorial and public program focused 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

Applications now open for prestigious Fellowship

Applications are now open for the 2019 Redmond Barry Fellowship - a partnership between the University of Melbourne and the State Library of Victoria. Named in honour of the founder of both institutions, the first Fellowship was awarded to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stones for both institutions on 3 July 1854. The Fellowship facilitates scholarly research and the production of works of literature utilising the superb collections of the two institutions. Up to $20,000 shall be awarded to assist with travel, living and research expenses.

Image: Sir Redmond Barry, n.d. University of Melbourne Archives

VCA Digital Archive Project articles now available 

The VCA Digital Archive Project has released a series of articles that respond thematically to the depth and breadth of the VCA Film and Television Archive collection, which will be available for research from mid-2019. The articles were commissioned as part of a grant from the University of Melbourne Student Services Amenities Fee. University of Melbourne staff and students and some industry people dipped into the Archive and watched films based on themes. The idea was to use the collection as stimulus in which to curate and create. Some responses are completely creative, others are reviews, others are word art pieces. The latest article exploring the theme of life after death is now available.

To find out more about the project, visit the VCA Digital Archive Project website. You can also find a selection of more than 100 films from the collection available on the VCA Film and Television Archive YouTube page.

Image: Gila Fisher (director), Deep Six, 2017. VCA Film and Television Archive, University of Melbourne

Georgina Sweet lectern now on display

The latest issue of the University of Melbourne Collections magazine (issue 23, December 2018) has an interesting article about Dr Georgina Sweet and her link with the Tiegs Zoology Museum. The article includes the fact that a lectern was made in 1924 to commemorate Dr Sweet's contribution to the Biology Department.

Late last year restoration work was carried out on this lectern by the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, funded by the School of BioSciences. The back of lectern has an inscribed brass plaque which has especially benefitted from the conservation treatment. The restored lectern has now been returned to the Tiegs Museum for display and can be appreciated by all visitors to the museum, especially those with an interest in Dr Georgina Sweet's career at the University of Melbourne.

Image: The restored Georgina Sweet lectern on display in the Tiegs Zoology Museum. Photograph by Laura Marchese

Grainger Museum seeking volunteers

Do you enjoy engaging with people and sharing knowledge of museums, music and culture? Would you like to be part of a unique Australian cultural institution? The Grainger Museum is seeking applicants for its volunteer program.

This program is designed to offer a diverse range of people the opportunity to closely engage with the Grainger Museum and the University of Melbourne. Volunteers are a valued part of the Grainger Museum, helping to educate visitors on the Museum and its permanent and temporary exhibitions and enhance its programs and events. Volunteers will be able to work closely with the Grainger Museum and its fascinating collection, including artworks, instruments, textiles, and music manuscripts, to learn new skills and share knowledge.

Visit the Granger Museum volunteer website for more information on how to apply. Applications close March 10, 2019.

Image: Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne

Exhibitions at The University of Melbourne

A New Order   

Buxton Contemporary, from Friday 8 March 2019

There are innumerable ways to join the dots and build connections between the works in A New Order, all of which have been selected from the Michael Buxton Collection. Within the exhibition and the work of the 12 artists represented, we encounter many interconnecting styles and themes: a will to order or to react against it, a tendency for systematic and serial methods, a push and pull within processes that favour chance as much as rules. Patterns become structures that can be seen as more than compositions, as intrinsic to the content of a work or even as its central subject. More

Image: Diena Georgetti, Split panelled shadow chart, 2011. The Michael Buxton Collection, University of Melbourne Art Collection. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Michael and Janet Buxton

National Anthem

Buxton Contemporary, from Friday 8 March 2019  

Presenting a cacophonous array of artistic voices and perspectives, National Anthem brings together 24 artists, from a range of generations, who critically address Australian national identity. Built around key works in the Michael Buxton Collection, together with works sourced from beyond the collection, this project reflects on the ways that the desire for a singular national identity often excludes Indigenous histories and denies the multiplicity of voices, cultures and experiences that enrich, contest and enhance Australian life.

Channelling humour and satire and engaging in tactics such as play, intervention and confrontation, the artists in National Anthem seek self-determination and collectively hold a mirror up to contemporary Australia, prompting new representations of who we are or who we might aspire to become. More

Image: Juan Davila, Un-Australian, 2014. The Michael Buxton Collection, University of Melbourne Art Collection. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Michael and Janet Buxton

The Universe Looks Down

Noel Shaw Gallery, Baillieu Library, to Sunday 31 March 2019

Kristin Headlam’s exhibition The Universe Looks Down derives from a University of Melbourne commission of a suite of etchings by Kristin in response to the long narrative poem of the same name by eminent Australian poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe. As part of this major commission, the University Library acquired the sketchbooks, preliminary drawings and watercolours which evidence the conceptual development of the 64 etchings in the completed suite. These exploratory images, as well as the prints give a rare glimpse into the creative process Kristin entered into to undertake this unique collaboration. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of talks by Kristin Headlam, Chris Wallace-Crabbe and Lisa Gorton.

Image: Kristin Headlam, The end of Horn, 2016/2017. Rare Books, Special Collections, University of Melbourne

Objects of Fame: Nellie Melba and Percy Grainger

Grainger Museum, to Sunday 31 March 2019

Presented by Grainger Museum and Arts Centre Melbourne

Melbourne produced two international stars of classical music – Nellie Melba and Percy Grainger – in the decades surrounding Federation. Adopting a name in honour of her home town, Nellie Melba made her professional debut in 1887 and became hailed as the greatest opera singer of her time. Percy Grainger was a child prodigy who forged a career of pianistic brilliance and musical innovation as the new century unfolded. Each conquered the world’s great stages, enjoyed royal approbation and public fascination.

The musical talents of Melba and Grainger, who had both family and professional connections, were matched only by the fame they engendered. Stampeding their way into popular consciousness as early media-assisted celebrities, they created rich intellectual and material legacies. Objects of Fame: Nellie Melba and Percy Grainger showcases these two extraordinary Australians, drawing on objects from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Australian Performing Arts Collection, and the Grainger Museum.


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 photographic, 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

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

Image: Visitors at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. Photography by Jody Hutchinson

University of Melbourne Collections

Issue 23 of the University of Melbourne Collections magazine is now available. Join the Friends of the Baillieu Library and receive two complimentary issues of the magazine annually.

In this issue read about remnants of Piltdown Man in the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology; the story behind a replica of an ancient bronze statue of a Greek god; strange creatures found in the Baillieu Library Print Collection; the Kipp generator that transformed chemistry teaching in the 1950s 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.  

Read the February issue to find out about the Grainger's next exhibition, How it Plays: Innovations in Percussion and some of the hard work being undertaken by the Grainger Museum team in preparation for its opening in late April 2019. 

Image: Percy Aldridge Grainger, In a Nutshell Suite, No.2 ‘Gay but wistful’ [detail]. Grainger Museum Collection, University of Melbourne
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