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National Gallery of Victoria
National Gallery of Victoria from Eurkea Tower.jpg
Established 1861
Location Southbank, Melbourne, Australia
Coordinates 37°49′21″S 144°58′07″E / 37.822595°S 144.968634°E / -37.822595; 144.968634
Type Art museum
Visitors 2,600,000 (2015)
Director Tony Ellwood
Public transit access Flinders Street station
Tram routes 1, 3, 5, 6, 16, 64, 67, 72
Website www.ngv.vic.gov.au

The National Gallery of Victoria, popularly known as the NGV, is an art museum in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Founded in 1861, it is Australia's oldest, largest and most visited art museum.

The NGV houses an encyclopedic art collection across two sites: NGV International, located on St Kilda Road in the Melbourne Arts Precinct of Southbank, and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, located nearby at Federation Square. The NGV International building, designed by Sir Roy Grounds, opened in 1968, and was redeveloped by Mario Bellini before reopening in 2003. It houses the gallery's international art collection and is on the Victorian Heritage Register. Designed by Lab Architecture Studio, the Ian Potter Centre opened in 2002 and houses the gallery's Australian art collection.

History[edit]

19th century[edit]

Nicholas Chevalier's unrealised 1860 vision for the National Gallery next to the State Library building

Victoria gained independence from New South Wales in 1850 (effective 1 July 1851). In the wake of the Victorian gold rush that began in (August) 1851, it became Australia's richest colony, and Melbourne, its capital, the largest and wealthiest city in Australia. With Melbourne's rapid growth came calls for the establishment of a public art gallery, and in 1859, the Government of Victoria pledged £2000 for the acquisition of plaster casts of sculpture.[1] These works were displayed in the Museum of Art, opened by Governor Sir Henry Barkly in May 1861 on the lower floor of the south wing of the Public Library (now the State Library of Victoria) on Swanston Street.[2] Further money was set aside in the early 1860s for the purchase of original paintings by British and Victorian artists. These works were first displayed in December 1864 in the newly opened Picture Gallery, which remained under the curatorial administration of the Public Library until 1882.[3][4] Grand visions for a gallery building at Lonsdale and Swanston Street were drawn by Nicholas Chevalier in 1860 and Frederick Grosse in 1865 featuring an enormous and elaborate library and gallery, however such visions were never realised.

Entrance to the McArthur Gallery on Swanston Street, which was the first permanent home of the collection, now home to the painting collection of the State Library of Victoria.

On 24 May 1874, the first purpose built gallery, known as the McArthur Gallery, opened in the McArthur room of the State Library, and the following year, the Museum of Art was renamed the National Gallery of Victoria.[2] The McArthur Gallery was only ever intended as a temporary home until the much grander vision was to be realised.[5] However such an edifice did not eventuate and the complex was instead developed incrementally over several decades.

The National Gallery of Victoria Art School, associated with the gallery, was founded in 1867 and remained the leading centre for academic art training in Australia until about 1910.[6] The School's graduates went on to become some of Australia's most significant artists.

In 1887, the Buvelot Gallery (later Swinburne Hall) was opened, along with the Painting School studios. In 1892, two more galleries were added: Stawell (now Cowen) and La Trobe.[2]

20th century[edit]

The world's largest stained-glass ceiling in the NGV's Great Hall, designed by Australian artist Leonard French[7]

The gallery's collection was built from both gifts of works of art and monetary donations. The most significant, the Felton Bequest, was established by the will of Alfred Felton and from 1904, has been used to purchase over 15,000 works of art.[8]

Since the Felton Bequest, the gallery had long held plans to build a permanent facility, however it was not until 1943 that the State Government chose a site, Wirth's Park, just south of the Yarra River.[9] £3 million was put forward in February 1960 and Roy Grounds was announced as the architect.[10]

In 1959, the commission to design a new gallery was awarded to the architectural firm Grounds Romberg Boyd. In 1962, Roy Grounds split from his partners Frederick Romberg and Robin Boyd, retained the commission, and designed the gallery at 180 St Kilda Road (now known as NGV International). The new bluestone clad building was completed in December 1967[11] and Victorian premier Henry Bolte officially opened it on 20 August 1968.[12] One of the features of the building is the Leonard French stained glass ceiling, one of the world's largest pieces of suspended stained glass, which casts colourful light on the floor below. The water-wall entrance is another well-known feature of the building.

In 1999, redevelopment of the building was proposed, with Mario Bellini chosen as architect and an estimated project cost of $161.9 million. The proposal was to leave the original architectural fabric intact including the exterior facade and Leonard French stained glass ceiling, but to significantly modernise the interior.[13] During the redevelopment, many works were moved to a temporary external annex known as NGV on Russell, at the State Library with its entrance on Russell Street.[2]

21st century[edit]

Federation Court
Ramp inside the gallery

A major fundraising drive was launched on 10 October 2000 to redevelop the ageing facility and although the state government committed the majority of the funds, private donations were sought in addition to federal funding. The drive achieved its aim and secured $15 million from the Ian Potter Foundation on 11 July 2000, $3 million from Lotti Smorgon, $2 million from the Clemenger Foundation, and $1 million each from James Fairfax and the Pratt Foundation.[14]

NGV on Russell closed on 30 June 2002[2] to make way for the staged opening of the new St Kilda Road gallery. It was officially opened by premier Steve Bracks on 4 December 2003.[15]

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in Federation Square was designed by Lab Architecture Studio to house the NGV's Australian art collection. It opened in 2002. As such, the NGV's collection is now housed in two separate buildings, with Grounds' building renamed NGV International.

Collection areas[edit]

Asian art[edit]

Level 1 Art of Japan

The NGV's Asian art collection began in 1862, one year after the gallery's founding, when Frederick Dalgety donated two Chinese plates. The Asian collection has since grown to include significant works from across the continent.

Australian art[edit]

Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

The NGV's Australian art collection encompasses Indigenous (Australian Aboriginal) art and artefacts, Australian colonial art, Australian Impressionist art, 20th century, modern and contemporary art.

The 1880s saw the birth and development of the Heidelberg School (also known as Australian Impressionism) in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, and the NGV was well-placed to acquire some of the movement's key artworks, including Tom Roberts' Shearing the Rams (1890), Arthur Streeton's ‘The purple noon's transparent might’ (1896), and Frederick McCubbin's The Pioneer (1904).[16]

The Australian collection includes works by Charles Blackman, John Brack, Arthur Boyd, Louis Buvelot, Rupert Bunny, Nicholas Chevalier, Charles Conder, David Davies, William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, E. Phillips Fox, John Glover, Eugene von Guerard, Hans Heysen, George W. Lambert, Sydney Long, John Longstaff, Frederick McCubbin, Sidney Nolan, John Perceval, Margaret Preston, Hugh Ramsay, Tom Roberts, John Russell, Grace Cossington Smith, Arthur Streeton, Fred Williams and others.

A large number of works were donated by Dr. Joseph Brown in 2004 which form the Joseph Brown Collection.

Selected works

International art[edit]

Level 2 Britain & European Collection
Level 3 Contemporary Art & Design
NGV International

The NGV's international art collection encompasses European and international paintings, fashion and textiles, photography, prints and drawings, Asian art, decorative arts, Mesoamerican art, Pacific art, sculpture, antiquities and global contemporary art. It has strong collections in areas as diverse as old masters, Greek vases, Egyptian artefacts and historical European ceramics, and contains the largest and most comprehensive range of artworks in Australia.[17]

The international collection includes works by Bernini, Bordone, Canaletto, Cézanne, Constable, Dali, Correggio, Degas, van Dyck, Gainsborough, Gentileschi, El Greco, Manet, Memling, Modigliani, Monet, Picasso, Pissarro, Poussin, Rembrandt, Renoir, Ribera, Rothko, Rubens, Tiepolo, Giambattista Pittoni, Tintoretto, Turner, Uccello, Veronese and others.

One of the highlights of the NGV's international collection is Auguste Rodin's first cast of his iconic sculpture The Thinker, executed in 1884.[18]

Selected works

Photography[edit]

In 1967, the NGV established the first curatorial department dedicated to photography in an Australian public gallery,[19] one of the first in the world. It now holds over 15,000 works. In that same year, the Gallery acquired the photography collection's first work, Surrey Hills street 1948 by David Moore[1] and in 1969 the first international work was acquired, Nude 1939 by František Drtikol[2]. The first photographer to exhibit solo at the NGV was Mark Strizic in 1968[20][3]. Jennie Boddington, a filmmaker, was appointed first full-time curator of photography[21] in 1972,[22] possibly only the third such appointment amongst world public institutions.

Prints and drawings[edit]

William Blake, Antaeus setting down Dante and Virgil in the Last Circle of Hell, 1824

The NGV's Department of Prints and Drawings is responsible for one third of the gallery's collection. Highlights among the department's holdings include one of the world's largest collections of engravings and woodcuts by Dürer.[23] The NGV is also said to have one of the most impressive collections of works by William Blake, including 36 of the 102 watercolours he worked on up until his death in 1827 to illustrate the Divine Comedy by Dante, the largest number of works from this series held by any gallery in the world.[24] Rembrandt and Goya are also well-represented.

Controversies[edit]

As a "National Gallery"[edit]

When plans for the construction of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra became firmly established in the 1960s, Australia's state galleries removed the word "national" from their names (for example, the National Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney became the Art Gallery of New South Wales). This naming convention dated back to the 19th century when Australia's colonies were self-governing political entities and had yet to federate. Only the NGV has retained "national" in its name.[25] This has proven to be somewhat contentious, given that the NGV is technically not a national gallery, and occasionally there have been calls for it to follow the example of the other state galleries. According to former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, "We won't be renaming the National Gallery of Victoria. It has a great tradition. It is the biggest and best gallery in the country and it's one of the biggest and best in the world."

Picasso theft[edit]

A famous event in the history of the gallery was the theft of Pablo Picasso's painting The Weeping Woman in 1986 during the tenure of director Patrick McCaughey. A person or group who identified themselves as the "Australian Cultural Terrorists" claimed responsibility for the removal of the painting in protest against the perceived poor treatment of the arts by the state government of the time. They sought as a ransom the establishment of an art prize for young artists. The painting was returned in a railway locker two weeks later.[26]

Special exhibitions[edit]

An exhibition known as "The Field" opened the gallery's new premises on St Kilda Road in 1968. Reflecting the influence of abstract art, particularly New York-inspired Color Field painting, it featured 74 works by forty (mostly emerging young) Australian painters and sculptors. Described as a radical departure from the gallery's more traditional program, it signified more broadly a growing internationalisation of the Australian art world. The NGV held an exhibition titled "The Field Revisited" in 2018 to mark its 50th anniversary.[27]

Melbourne Winter Masterpieces[edit]

The NGV has held several large exhibitions known as Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibitions, starting with Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Musee d'Orsay in 2004.

Year Duration Exhibition Title Attendance[28] Notable works and information
2004 17 June - 26 September Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay 371,000 An additional exhibition of Caravaggio paintings was also held in 2004
2005 24 June - 2 October Dutch Masters from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam 219,000 Vermeer's painting The Love Letter was exhibited, the first time a Vermeer painting had been exhibited in Australia
2006 30 June - 8 October Picasso: Love and War 1935–1945 224,000 Over 300 Picasso drawings and paintings from 1935–1945, curated by Anne Baldassari, Director of the Musée Picasso, Paris[29]
2007 30 June - 7 October Guggenheim Collection 1940s to now 180,000 More than 85 works by 68 artists, mainly from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, but also from other Guggenheim Museums in Venice, Bilbao, and Berlin. The exhibition did not travel to any other city[30][31]
2008 28 June - 5 October Art Deco 1910—1939 241,000 Organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London[32]
2009 13 June - 4 October Salvador Dalí Liquid Desire 333,000
2010 19 June - 10 October European Masters: Städel Museum, 19th–20th Century 200,000
2011 13 June - 4 October Vienna Art and Design 172,000
2012 2 June - 7 October Napoleon: Revolution to Empire 189,000
2013 10 May - 8 September Monet's Garden: The Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris 342,000
2014 16 May - 31 August Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court, Museo del Prado 153,000
2015 31 July - 8 November Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great 172,000 Exhibition featured pieces by Rembrandt, Rubens, Velazquez, Van Dyck and others
2016 24 June - 18 September Degas: A New Vision 197,500
2017 28 April - 12 July Van Gogh and the Seasons 462,262 Exhibition clocked a total attendance figure of 462,262, making it the most popular ticketed art exhibition ever presented in Victoria,[33] and the most successful ticketed exhibition in the gallery's 156-year history.[34][35] The exhibition is credited for generating almost $56 million for the Victorian economy.[36]
2018 9 June - 7 October MoMA: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art Exhibition in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Includes over 200 key works arranged into eight chronological and thematic sections

NGV Triennial[edit]

In 2013 the NGV launched "Melbourne Now", an exhibition which celebrated the latest art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice to reflect the complex cultural landscape of creative Melbourne. "Melbourne Now" ran from 22 November 2013 – 23 March 2014 and attracted record attendances of 753,071.[37] Following the success of "Melbourne Now", in 2–14 March the NGV announced a major new initiative, the NGV Triennial. Beginning in the Summer of 2017 and to be held every three years, this ambitious event will be a large-scale celebration of the best of contemporary international art and design.[38] The inaugural Triennial ran from 15 December 2017 to 15 April 2018, and drew almost 1.3 million visitors during its run, making it the most attended exhibition in the gallery's history.[39][40][41]

Directors of the NGV[edit]

Directors of the NGV since its inception:[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mansfield, Elizabeth. Art History and Its Institutions: Foundations of a Discipline. Psychology Press, 2002. p. 105
  2. ^ a b c d e [The History of the State Library of Victoria http://guides.slv.vic.gov.au/slvhistory/museumgallerypro]
  3. ^ Lane, Terence. Nineteenth-century Australian Art in the National Gallery of Victoria. National Gallery of Victoria, 2003. pp. 13–14.
  4. ^ McCulloch, Alan. The Encyclopedia of Australian Art. University of Hawaii Press, 1994. p. 815
  5. ^ State Library of Victoria Complex. 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne Conservation Management Plan. Lovell Chen
  6. ^ McCulloch, Alan; Susan McCulloch (1994). The Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Allen & Unwin. p. 864 (Appendix 8). ISBN 1-86373-315-9. 
  7. ^ Shmith, Michael. "Raising the roof with a glass ceiling", The Age. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  8. ^ "NGV Media | Welcome to NGV Media". ngv.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2013-08-15. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ National Gallery of Victoria - Victorian Heritage Register
  10. ^ "Democratic" Art Gallery Planned. The Canberra Times. Sat 27 Feb 1960
  11. ^ Green, Louise McO. "NGV Women's Association History". National Gallery of Victoria. Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  12. ^ The Canberra Times. Wed 21 Aug 1968. pg 3
  13. ^ "The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Redevelopment". Retrieved 26 February 2018. 
  14. ^ National Gallery of Victoria Annual Report 2000-2001 http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ngv_corp_annualreport_2000_01.pdf
  15. ^ National Gallery of Victoria Annual Report 2003-2004 http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ngv_corp_annualreport_2003_04.pdf
  16. ^ Galbally, Ann. The Collections of the National Gallery of Victoria. Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN 9780195545913, p. 36.
  17. ^ "Collection Online > collections > Collection Areas". ngv.vic.gov.au. 31 July 2013. Archived from the original on 4 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Blanchetière, François; Thurrowgood, David (2013). "Two Insights Into Augustus Rodin's The Thinker". Art Journal. National Gallery of Victoria. 52.
  19. ^ Although the Art Gallery of South Australia began collecting photographs as fine art in 1922, it houses them with 'Australian Prints, Drawings and Photographs'(see: http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home/Collection/australlian_prints_drawings_and_photographs.html). Other Photography collections in public galleries are: The Art Gallery of New South Wales, est.1975 (see: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/photography/); Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) started their collection in 1987 where works are housed as art of the Contemporary Australian Art collection
  20. ^ Mark Strizic: A Journey in Photography information National Portrait Gallery Travelling Exhibitions site http://www.portrait.gov.au/site/exhibition_subsite_strizic4.php
  21. ^ Ely, Deborah History of Photography, 01 June 1999, Vol.23(2), p.118-122
  22. ^ Cox, Leonard B. The National Gallery of Victoria, 1861-1968: The Search for a Collection. Melbourne: The National Gallery of Victoria; Brown Prior Anderson Pty Ltd, 1971
  23. ^ Zdanowicz, Irena. Albrecht Dürer in the Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. National Gallery of Victoria, 1994. ISBN 9780724101696.
  24. ^ "NGV to showcase its William Blake collection" (25 March 2014), Arts Review. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  25. ^ Knell, Simon. National Galleries. Routledge, 2016. ISBN 9781317432425, p. 104.
  26. ^ Justin Murphy; Susan Cram (19 September 2004). "Stolen Picasso". Rewind (ABC TV). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  27. ^ "NGV to Restage 1968's Groundbreaking Exhibition 'The Field'", Daily Review (14 March 2018). Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  28. ^ Creative Victoria. "Melbourne Winter Masterpieces". creative.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2018-07-08. 
  29. ^ "Arts Victoria – Melbourne Winter Masterpieces". 
  30. ^ "Guggenheim Collection: 1940s to Now". NGV. 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  31. ^ "Guggenheim leaves Melbourne". Entertainment Depot, Australia. 8 October 2007. Archived from the original on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2007. 
  32. ^ "Art Deco". NGV. 2008. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  33. ^ "Record-Busting Van Gogh Draws Over 110,000 Tourists To Victoria". Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  34. ^ Cunningham, Melissa. "Starry final night for Van Gogh and the Seasons at National Gallery of Victoria". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  35. ^ "Van Gogh works draw record crowds to NGV". 9 News. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  36. ^ "Melbourne Winter Masterpieces". Creative Victoria. Government of Victoria. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  37. ^ "NGV Media". NGV. 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  38. ^ "NGV Media". NGV. 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  39. ^ Neutze, Ben. "The NGV's Triennial is the gallery's most-visited exhibition ever". TimeOut. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  40. ^ Plant, Simon. "NGV Triennial exhibition reaches record 1 million visitors". news.com.au. News Corp. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  41. ^ Noonan, Andie. "Melbourne to build largest contemporary art gallery in Australia". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  42. ^ Alan McCulloch, Susan McCulloch and Emily McCulloch Childs, The New McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art (4th edition), Aus Art Editions & Miegunyah Press, 2006, p. 458.
  43. ^ "Tony Ellwood, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria | NGV". www.ngv.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-10-01. 

External links[edit]

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