September 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.


VCA Digital Archive coming to Old Quad  

In October, Discover the Digital Archive will be launched at Old Quad providing visitors with unprecedented access to the VCA Film and Television Digital Archive, a newly presented collection that has never before been accessible to the wider public.

The VCA Film and Television Digital Archive is a historic, social and cultural time-capsule comprising work from Film and Television students dating back to 1966. Around 500 celluloid and more than 1,200 magnetic films have been digitised and added to the Digital Archive. While a small selection of content is available on YouTube, the entire Archive is only available at Old Quad during this exhibition period, making this experience a once-off opportunity for engagement and research. Curated by students majoring in Screen and Cultural Studies as well as Digital Archive volunteers, a special 'Old Quad' playlist will also feature for audiences during this exhibition.

Discover the Digital Archive will be held in the Old Quad Treasury from Monday 28 October to Friday 22 November, 10am to 4pm.

Since opening in May, the Old Quad has offered myriad exhibitions, events and programs. Plan your visit.

Image: Leah Sanderson [director] film still from All at Sea, 2011, VCA Film and Television Archive, University of Melbourne

Conservation of Albrecht Durer’s ‘The Knight and the lansquenet’

Working with conservators from Grimwade Conservation Services, University of Melbourne conservation student Laura Daenke has just completed a major conservation treatment of Albrecht Durer’s early woodcut print, The Knight and the lansquenet (c. 1496), from the Baillieu Library Print Collection.
The Grimwade Centre’s Master of Cultural Materials Conservation program allows students to base an advanced research project on the major conservation treatment of an item from the University of Melbourne’s museums and collections, extending the skills of students who wish to specialise in treatment-based conservation. For this type of project, students work closely with professional conservators and collection managers to deliver a high-level conservation project.

For Albrecht Durer’s The Knight and the lansquenet, historic repairs had caused physical and aesthetic damage resulting in the work being unsuitable for exhibition. These repairs were painstakingly removed, the print washed and repaired. After conservation, the print is chemically and physically stable, and suitable for study or display. More

Image: Student conservator Laura Daenke washes the woodblock print The Knight and the lansquenetc from the Baillieu Library Print Collection

International Museums and Collections Award 2019

University of Birmingham student Erin Holder recently completed four weeks working with the University of Melbourne's collections as the 2019 recipient of the International Museums and Collections Award. Below Erin tells us about some of the highlights of her time in Melbourne.

Over the last four weeks I have undertaken my placement at the University of Melbourne for the International Museums and Collections Award, run in conjunction with the University of Birmingham in the UK. I’ve always been interested in the communication and preservation of history through the heritage sector, but my previous experience was working within 'front of house' teams in various historic buildings and archives in the UK.

I have been carrying out a wide variety of collections management tasks at collections across the University. Coming to the placement with my existing visitor services perspective has allowed me to approach projects with the very real impact that they have on the visitors in mind. I have been exposed to both the highlights and the challenges of working in a museum context – from funding and staffing concerns, to the issue of decolonisation, where museums confront the origins of their collections which may derive from wealthy benefactors of colonial power.

Image: Erin Holder working with the Baillieu Library Print Collection 

VSF Herbarium transferred to University of Melbourne Herbarium

In early August, the Victorian School of Forestry (VSF) Herbarium was transferred from the University's Creswick campus to The University of Melbourne Herbarium (MELU) in Parkville. With the incorporation of this collection, a significant milestone is achieved; all the University herbaria, including the Burnley Horticultural College and Victorian School of Forestry herbaria, now form a single collection for the first time. The specimens will be curated and digitised by staff and student volunteers working in The University of Melbourne Herbarium and made available online via Herbarium Collection Online.

The VSF Herbarium contains approximately 5500 specimens collected between 1877 and 1992 by staff and students and provides a rich record of the research and teaching conducted in the VSF, which is now part of the University of Melbourne’s School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences (SEFS). Significant specimens in the collection include those of former VSF staff; including E.J. Semmens (1500 specimens), the Principal of the School from 1927 to 1951 and J.H. Willis (70 specimens), a student at the School from 1927 to 1930 who later served as botanist, Assistant Government Botanist, and Acting Director of the National Herbarium of Victoria. The extensive work of VSF and SEFS staff and students in creation and curation of this collection ensures that it will serve as a valuable biological research collection into the future.

Image: Preparing the Victorian School of Forestry Herbarium for transfer

Melbourne School of Engineering collections host museum internship student

Frances Robson, a masters of museum studies student from the University of Sydney, has recently completed an internship with the Melbourne School of Engineering collections. Frances completed documentation of a photograph album compiled by engineering student Athol Bennett in 1901-1903, now held in the Surveying & Geomatic Engineering Collection. The album contains photographs of the recently completed Engineering Building, student activities on campus, excursions to mines and lighthouses, and photographs of the expedition to Lake Eyre in 1901, led by geology professor John Walter Gregory. A related album, created by fellow student James Robert Valentine Anderson, held in Special Collections at the Baillieu Library, shares several photos with the Bennett album.

Frances Robson also undertook research on Diane Lemaire (1923-2012), who graduated in 1944 as the first female engineering graduate at the University of Melbourne, and went on to a long career as a research leader at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories at Fishermans Bend. Through an oral history with one of Diane Lemaire’s friends, and contact with descendants, her school and college, a richer picture of her life and career has emerged.

Image: The Amelia Earhart Zonta Award, presented to Diane Lemaire as a recipient of a Zontian International Fellowship to support women in aerospace engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering collection, University of Melbourne


Law Rare Books lecture: The Macquarie story as a history take for today

Theatre 102, Level 1, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street Carlton, Thursday 12 September, 6.007.00pm

Public Lecture by Austin Lovegrove, Honorary Principal Fellow, Melbourne Law School

This lecture describes one attempt to inform the public and engage them in debate about an enlightened approach to the punishment of criminal offenders. The heroes of this story are the Scots Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales between 1810 and 1821, and his wife Elizabeth Macquarie, who together attempted to introduce an enlightened approach to the treatment of convicts. For them, convicts were men and women of inherent worth, for whom reform, not punishment, should be the principal consideration in their treatment. The aim of this treatment should be their full restoration to society, including leadership.

The Macquarie enlightenment took place on two lands. It is fitting that a pictorial representation of the Indigenous moiety of
'Kaapay and Kuyan' (Two Ways) serves a foundation for the telling of this story and conveying it message to the modern world.

Bookings and further information

Image: Rosella Namok, Kaapay and Kuyan, 2018

Tour the VCA Print Workshop

Southbank Campus, Tuesday 17 September 2019, 12.001.00pm

As part of the Horizon lines: The ambitions of a print collection exhibition, learn about print processes and join printmaker and Print Workshop Coordinator, Adrian Kellett on a tour of the VCA Print Workshop. The complex includes an etching-based workshop, a lithographic-based print workshop and a screen printing workshop. Adrian will demonstrate some of these techniques as part of the tour.

Meet outside Buxton Contemporary, corner of Southbank Boulevard & Dodds Street Southbank.

Bookings and further information

Image: Print Workshop, University of Melbourne Southbank campus

The etchings of Charles Meryon, a lecture by Harold Wright

Leigh Scott Room, Baillieu Library, Monday 30 September 2019, 1.30–2.15pm

As part of the Horizon lines: The ambitions of a print collection exhibition and to celebrate 50 years of the Harold Wright scholarship, enjoy a recreated lecture by Harold Wright.

Harold Wright was a print seller and connoisseur. He gave many lectures on prints and some of his lectures were published by the Royal Society of Arts. He amassed a vast collection of lecture slides which he had imaged from print rooms in Europe. His lecture, The etchings of Charles Meryon, will be read by artist John Wolseley, who met Harold Wright in London.

Bookings and further information

Image: Harold Wright


Exhibitions at The University of Melbourne

Bauhaus Now!

Buxton Contemporary, to Saturday 20 October 2019  
Guest curated by Ann Stephen

In the year of its centenary, the Bauhaus returns to haunt our museums. How do contemporary artists re-imagine a relationship to this legendary school? Are they scavengers raiding the ruins of modernism, appropriators of ‘good design’ kitsch or acolytes of an unholy sect? Bauhaus Now! explores its legacy in Australia—both for contemporary artists and for art education—highlighting its visionary, collectivist ideals and its radical practices. More

Image: Peter D Cole, Elemental landscape 2009-19 (detail), enamel on brass, 52 parts, dimensions variable, Courtesy of the artist, © the artist

Revealed: Arnhem Land Barks from the Anita Castan Collection – Yirrkala and Milingimbi

Burke Gallery, Trinity College, to Thursday 5 September 2019

This incredibly significant collection of bark paintings from two communities in North East Arnhem Land is both rich in cultural and artistic traditions. In 1963, Yolngu elders had presented the Yirrkala bark petitions to Australia’s federal parliament asserting their traditional custodianship of country. This was a pivotal moment in Australia's march towards Indigenous reconciliation. Formed by Ken Neybert, a young American collector in the mid-1960s who recognised the beauty in Yolngu bark paintings, Anita Castan acquired the collection in the US and returned it to Australia. It remains a deeply important body of art works for the Yolngu communities who produced them. More

Image: Opening night of Revealed: Arnhem Land Barks from the Anita Castan Collection – Yirrkala and Milingimbi

Ancestral Memory

Old Quad, to Friday 11 October 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

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 of 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

Horizon lines: The ambitions of a print collection   

Noel Shaw Gallery, Baillieu Library, to Sunday 8 December 2019

Horizon lines: The ambitions of a print collection focuses on Northern and Italian Renaissance printmakers, such as Albrecht Dürer, and Dutch Republic artists, including Rembrandt, as well as the British etching revival. The selected woodcuts, engravings and etchings present a variety of perspectives on the ambitions of the artists who created them, as well as their collectors and scholars. The exhibition is staged as one of several activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Harold Wright and Sarah and William Holmes scholarships. The awards enable print scholars from Australia and New Zealand to examine prints at the British Museum. Taking its cue from the approach of Harold Wright and inspiration behind the scholarships, this exhibition encourages considered looking for the acquisition of knowledge and sheer enjoyment of prints.

Image: Baccio Bandinelli, Apollo and Daphne, 1515. Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959  

How it plays: Innovations in percussion

Grainger Museum, to Friday 20 December 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


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

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 24 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 the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Collection; the latest Medical History Museum exhibition on the Royal Women's Hospital; an indigenous carved emu egg from the University Art Collection; the Ernest Fooks Collection at the Architecture, Building and Planning Library 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 August issue to find out about the Grainger's current exhibition, How it Plays: Innovations in Percussion

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