Recent University Art Collection acquisitions go virtual

Many galleries are launching online exhibitions during lockdown, but they are primarily using real-life exhibitions that are already installed and not able to be accessed by audiences at this time. By contrast, given that the Potter Museum of Art is currently closed for redevelopment, the exhibition Paying it Forward: Recent Acquisitions to the University Art Collection only exists in a virtual space.

Since the presentation in 1881 by a group of subscribers of the University’s first art work – a portrait of the University’s inaugural Chancellor, The Hon Sir Redmond Barry KCMG by G F Folingsby – the University Art Collection has benefited from the generosity of almost 140 years of giving.

Over the decades, the goodwill of donors has transformed the collection into an extraordinarily rich and varied resource of over 17,000 objects. The first major donation, in 1938, was of a significant group of works by Dr Samuel Arthur Ewing. Since then, the collection has welcomed various other major donations including the ethnographic collection of Dr Leonhard Adam (1960), the Grimwade Collection (1973), and the acquisition of the Michael Buxton Collection in more recent years.

Uniquely tied to the University’s endeavours via personal and practical connections, the collection has been developed through a combination of bequests, portrait commissions, artist-in-residence programs, teaching activities and field research, and now extends beyond this important foundation to reflect both the broader community and the role of the University as a place of learning central to Melbourne’s cultural life.

Focusing on the work of contemporary artists, Paying it Forward showcases various acquisitions made between 2015 and 2019. During this current time of isolation and restricted face-to-face engagement, we hope it helps remind us of the generosity of our community and of the vitally important contribution of artists, who, through their work, encourage us to reflect on our history, contemplate our present, and imagine new futures and collective ways of being.

Paying it Forward

Image:  Playing it Forward virtual tour screen still