Building the Collection: National Gallery of Australia

On 12 October 1982 the National Gallery of Australia celebrated its grand opening as the nation’s new cultural flagship on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Now 20 years on, Building the Collection explores the journey that the institution has travelled in developing and shaping the national collection of art and explores how the collections have continued to evolve.

The book, to be launched on 29 May 2003, begins with a short history of the succession of dedicated members of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board, who kept the idea of a national gallery alive for more than fifty years, until government finally agreed to its establishment.

Brian Kennedy, the current Director of the Gallery, describes recent efforts to provide renewed focus for the institution: “The National Gallery must make every effort to speak to all Australians. It must strive to be inclusive not exclusive. It must speak to national and international requirements while enriching the local community and the many visitors to the national capital”. The celebration of our collections’ diversity is one of the main reasons why Building the Collection has been published.

The early days of the institution are revisited through the accounts of the Gallery’s previous directors: James Mollison and Betty Churcher. Warwick Reeder, Alan Dodge and Andrew Sayers, former staff members and now Gallery directors themselves, have also written significant contributions.

The stories in Building the Collection are as varied and interesting as the collections themselves. Managing editor and author of the introductory historical essay, Pauline Green, has sought to elaborate the development of the collections of the National Gallery of Australia by commissioning essays from among others, Professor Sasha Grishin, Dr. Anne Gray, Christine Dixon, Wally Caruana, Robyn Maxwell, Jane Kinsman, and Charlotte Galloway. The Chairman of the National Gallery, Harold Mitchell has contributed the foreword to the book.

The publication will be officially launched at 10am Thursday 29 May 2003 at the National Gallery of Australia.

For further information please contact Public Affairs, phone + 61 2 6240 6431