Museums and Collections

May 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.


Old Quad opens doors for all

With its iconic archways and bold architectural presence, Old Quad is the oldest building on the Parkville campus and endures as the strongest connection to the University’s fledgling years. For the past 164 years the building has adapted with each new era while standing firm in the heart of the campus both in a geographical and historical sense.

Now the Old Quad emerges from its latest reconstruction to once again provide a vibrant and welcoming campus experience. Housed within its historic walls, the newly refurbished building will host multiple displays of items from the University’s cultural collections, including a dedicated temporary exhibition space in The Treasury. In addition to collection displays, the heritage listed architectural features and historic furniture will be on view for the public to take in the early history of this original University of Melbourne building.

The Old Quad will be open to the public 10.00am to 4.00pm weekdays from Monday 6 May 2019.

Image: Entrance to Quadrangle, University of Melbourne, c.1910. University of Melbourne Archives

New home for Veterinary Anatomy Collection

The Veterinary Anatomy Collection has moved from its former home on Flemington Road to state-of-the-art teaching facilities located on basement level 1 of the newly opened WEBS building on Royal Parade. Specimens are now located in the Object Based Learning Area (OBLA) and in display cases surrounding the informal learning area on this level. These specimens have been developed by the Vet School or have been donated from a range of other collections, both within and external to the University, and include preserved tissues in pots, bones, articulated skeletons and models. New specimens continue to be developed in the Anatomy laboratory, based on donated tissues. It is intended that 3D printing for model construction will be further utilised in the future.

While the current arrangement of specimens is largely based on body systems, it is intended that displays will change with teaching requirements and as new specimens are developed. Specimens are taken from the displays for use in anatomy classes and students are also encouraged to enter the OBLA during class time to view relevant displays. The OBLA is a dedicated study space for the use of Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences students who undertake anatomy studies, however many of the displays can be viewed from the informal learning area outside this room. The design of these spaces was undertaken by Hassell architects, under the direction of Dr Christina Murray and the veterinary anatomy teaching team.

Image: WEBS Object Based Learning Area showcasing the Veterinary Anatomy Collection

2019 IMaC Award recipient announced

Erin Holder has recently been selected as the UK recipient of the 2019 International Museums and Collections Award. Currently studying for her Bachelor of Arts (Hons. History) at the University of Birmingham, Erin will be coming to Melbourne in late July. During her month-long placement, Erin will work with museum and collection professionals on a range of projects that will develop her collection management and curatorial skills across a selection of the University’s cultural collections. Erin also has a background in music and is interested in exploring the way folk music develops and enhances cultural heritage, and so is especially looking forward to discovering the unique collections at the Grainger Museum. Through her placement at Melbourne Erin will have the opportunity to experience different facets of collection management, curating and public programs within an international context. Of her upcoming stay she commented:

I am thrilled to be the recipient of this year’s IMAC award. I have always had an interest in the communication and preservation of history via museum collections. I’m aiming to further develop my knowledge of the heritage and museum sectors and to experience many different sides of collections management. This will be a unique opportunity to learn from experts at the University of Melbourne, to explore the issues and challenges that are central to collections management today, and importantly to bring my learning back to the University of Birmingham and to strengthen the ties between our organisations.

Erin will be based with the Museums and Collections team from late July, and you will be able to follow her cultural adventures in Melbourne via her blog, which will be accessible through the Museums and Collections website.

The reciprocal part of the IMaC Award exchange will see a Melbourne student selected in September to travel in early 2020 to the University of Birmingham, and similarly to have the opportunity to work on projects with their museums and collections. 

Image: Erin Holder, UK recipient of the 2019 IMaC Award

New stained-glass artwork for Old Quad

Commissioned to celebrate the re-launch of the historic Old Quad, a large-scale stained-glass work has been created by artist Tom Nicholson and stained-glass artisan Geoffrey Wallace. Towards a glass monument comprises two screens of stained glass, each measuring over four metres in length and five metres in height, as well as six cast bronze plaques providing context for the piece and its history.

The design for the commission originated from two lithographs of Mesozoic ferns which were fossilized in sandstone. The lithographs were published in Prodromus to the Palaeontology of Victoria: or, Figures and Descriptions of Victorian Organic Remains, 1874, written by Frederick McCoy, one of the University of Melbourne’s first four professors.

Visitors to the newly refurbished Old Quad will delight in encountering the unique stained-glass screens upon entry via the north entrance. Spaced over a metre apart, visitors may walk between the artworks, taking in the designs, treatment of colour and light, and experiencing the often isolated stained-glass up close.

The Old Quad will be open to the public 10.00am to 4.00pm weekdays from Monday 6 May 2019.

Image: Tom Nicholson, Towards a glass monument [detail], 2017–19. Photograph © Christian Capurro

Bauhaus in the Archives 

2019 marks the centenary anniversary of the Bauhaus school of art and design, established first in Weimar, Germany 1919-1933. The University of Melbourne Archives has recently updated the finding aid to the collection of Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, one of the early artists of the Bauhaus movement. After being deported to Melbourne as an enemy alien and interned in camps in Victoria, Hirschfeld-Mack held the position of art master at Geelong Grammar School and later taught at the University of Melbourne and at Kew Kindergarten College.

Hirschfeld-Mack was a proponent of using Bauhaus principles of form, colour, and economy of materials to inspire social change through art. The collection houses material relating to his career both in Europe and Australia, technical details for his colour light play apparatus, photographs of his work, and that of his students, as well as material for his 1963 publication The Bauhaus: An Introductory Survey.

Image: Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack and two students, Art School, Geelong Grammar School, c.1950. University of Melbourne Archives

Applications open for 2019 Ursula Hoff Fellowship

Dr Ursula Hoff bequeathed funds to the University of Melbourne to establish a Fellowship for the study and promotion of prints held in the print collections of the University of Melbourne and the National Gallery of Victoria. In recognition of Dr Hoff’s scholarly and professional achievements, the Fellowship is awarded annually to a candidate displaying a commitment to research into prints, the history of print collecting and the scholarly activities of museums and universities.

The value of the award is $30,000 and the duration of the Fellowship is four months. The Fellow will be offered research access to collections relevant to their research at the University of Melbourne and the NGV. Applications are open until Monday 3 June 2019.

Further information and application form.

Image: Rembrandt van Rijn, Christ Before Pilate, c.1769-1843. Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959


How it plays: Innovations in percussion

Curator’s floor talk
Grainger Museum, Wednesday 9 May 2019, 12.00pm to 1.00pm

Join Curator, Exhibitions and Collections, Dr Heather Gaunt, for a tour of How it plays: Innovations in percussion - a collaborative exhibition and performance project at the Grainger Museum, featuring Federation Handbells (Museums Victoria/Creative Victoria), Speak Percussion, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music and the University's Melbourne School of Design.

Dr Gaunt will provide insight into the many collaborations involved in creating this project, including important programming elements with key partners. Bridging the chasm from Percy Grainger’s experiments in ‘tuneful percussion’ in the early twentieth century to the innovative performance of contemporary ensembles such as Speak Percussion, this program will highlight key pioneers who have changed the way we all see, hear and play music.

Further information and bookings.

This public event forms part of the 2019 program for the Australian Heritage Festival.

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

Archie Barry: National Anthem Performance Program

Buxton Contemporary, Saturday 11 May 2019, 2.00pm

Breath mark and muscle song: rest and only say what’s necessary. The first in a series of scheduled performances, Archie Barry turns a stethoscope into an instrument for amplifying their heartbeat as percussive accompaniment to their voice. The resulting song gently yields an appreciation of the way an individual body processes asynchronous rhythms of breath and blood, love and language.

Image: The digital screen at the entrance of Buxton Contemporary, featuring Kate Mitchell's digital video In Time, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery. Photograph James Geer


Exhibitions at The University of Melbourne

Ancestral Memory

Old Quad, from Monday 6 May 2019

The newly refurbished Old Quad is thrilled to inaugurate its treasury gallery with the exhibition, Ancestral Memory, from Maree Clarke (Mutti Mutti/Wamba Wamba Yorta Yorta/Boon Wurrung). A renowned cultural ‘revivifyer’, Clarke has been active in reclaiming the visual/material culture of her Ancestors and re-thinking this in line with her lived experiences as a contemporary southeast Australian Aboriginal artist.

Ancestral Memory tells the story of water on the lands of the Kulin Nation. Diving into the history of Old Quad’s location, the Kulin Nation cultural advisor Jefa Greenaway says, ‘[w]hat transpired from this research was that the story of water has always been and continues to be very important to this place. It is a story that traverses the campus.’

A central feature of the exhibition, Clarke’s dramatic glass eel trap shares both ancient and contemporary connections. Displayed alongside two woven eel traps, the distinctive patterns and methods of weaving connect these items to place; to a series of waterways running thick with eels and ancestral memory. Greenaway assures us that ‘[t]he eels continue to swim through the storm water pipes of the University. They rear their heads up in some of the ponds and storm water grates that exist on the campus.’

A powerful demonstration of resilience, Clarke’s Ancestral Memory launches the Old Quad into the next chapter while keeping a firm grasp on the past.

Image: Installation view of Ancestral Memory. Artist Maree Clarke. Photograph © Christian Capurro

How it plays: Innovations in percussion

Grainger Museum, from 8 May 2019

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

A New Order   

Buxton Contemporary, to Sunday 7 July 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, to Sunday 7 July 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 Women’s: Carers, advocates and reformers

Medical History Museum, to Saturday 2 November 2019

The Women’s: Carers, advocates and reformers exhibition explores the work of The Royal Women’s Hospital through the contributions of many remarkable individuals; public education and health campaigns; the training of nurses, midwives, doctors and other health professionals; and public policy and research. It follows the institution from its modest East Melbourne origins to its location today in the Parkville medical precinct, while also presenting the stories and knowledge of the traditional owners. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue highlight items from the Women’s Historic and Archive collection, Medical History Museum collection and the Victorian Public Records Office.

The Women’s has played a critical role in the life Melbourne since its beginnings. As historian Janet McCalman explains: 'The Royal Women’s Hospital opened in August 1856 as the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital and Infirmary for the Diseases Peculiar to Women and Children in a terrace house in Albert Street, East Melbourne. Melbourne was in the midst of a gold-rush that would bring half a million people through the colony in the decade. Women were abandoned, pregnant and destitute, while their husbands and erstwhile lovers tried their luck on the goldfields. The need for a charity lying-in hospital for women without homes was urgent.'

Image: Dr Kate Campbell (1899-1986) examining a premature baby in an isolette, 1974. Gift of Winifred Crick, Medical History 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 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 April issue to find out about the Grainger's new exhibition, How it Plays: Innovations in Percussion, which opens on 8 May 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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