State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 75 Autumn 2005


Kathleeen M. Fennessy
for “Love of art”: the museum of art and Picture Gallery at the Melbourne Public Library 1860-70


During The 1860s, art collection were established at the Melbourne Public Library to educate public taste and instruct the worker. The Museum of Art was launched in 1861, and the picture Gallery opened to the public in 1864. When the Public Library Trust was enlarged and the colony's public collections of literature, art and science were unified in 1870, the public art collections were united to form the National Gallery.1
This paper draws on the following histories of the National Gallery: Leonard B. Cox, The National Gallery of Victoria, 1861–1968: A Search for a Collection, Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, [1968], pp. 11–38; Christine Downer and Jennifer Phipps, Victorian Vision: 1834 Onwards. Images and Records from the National Gallery of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, 1985; Ann Galbally, The Collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1987, pp. 9–33; and Ann Galbally and Alison Inglis, with Christine Downer and Terence Lane, The First Collections: The Public Library and the National Gallery of Victoria in the 1850s and 1860s, Melbourne, University of Melbourne Museum of Art, 1992.paper discusses the founding of the Museum of Art and the Picture Gallery at the Public Library, and agues that their educational role was paramount. It was believed that by educating the eye, public art collections would elevat popular taste and improve design; and tha by cultivating the individual's thoughts, feelings and behaviour, they would instil disciplined citizenship and thus shape civil society. Exposure to good art and design would create an aesthetically discerning pubic, which would stimulate demmand for, and consumption of, art products. If, is British art critic John Ruskin proposed, high aesthetic standazrds improved society, it was argued that in Victoria artists and artisans required correct training, so the level of art production and design could advance.2

An Art Museum for the People

There was a “lamentable apathy” in victoria towards the fine arts after the gold rushes. Preoccupied with “bare necessities”, most colonist were not yet concerned with acquiring the “refinements and eloeganies” of a mature and stable home. By the late 1850s, support fot the fine arts and for a public aret museum strengthened. Established artists, such as Thomas Clark, Eugene von Guerard and Nicholas Chevailer, had settled in the colony and were endeavouring to make a living from their art; and journalists like Jmes Smith were becoming known as cultural critics.3
From the time the Melbourne Public Library opened in 1856, it was expected that it would eventually house a public art museum. Frederick McCoy, professor of natural science at the University of Melbourne and later director of the National Museum, promoted the idea in 1856 when he suggested placing an educational art museum “in the ground floor of the Public LIbrary'. A year later, Smith advocated forming a national picture gallery like the National Gallery in London. From the beginning, there were opposing vies about the public art museum's role, wheather it should educate the public taste through the history of art or through original paintings.4
The Public Library trustees made the first practical move towards an art museum when in 1858 they applied to the government for land at the rear of the Library for museums of art

The National Picture Gallery at the Public Library, Melbourne. 1865. Illustrated Australian News 25 January 1865. Wood engraving. La Trobe Picture Collection.

and science.5 Even though the public seemed uninterested in the idea, the press urged the government to establish a “national collection”, claiming that the state had civic responsibility to foster the “love of Art”, for it was the antidote to “barbarism'.6 In 1859 Parliament voted two thousand pounds for the purchase of works worthy of a national collection and entrusted the money to the Library trustees, who intended forming a public art museum. It was decided to acquire works that stimulated “intellectual culture” and elevated taste for “the pure, the beautiful and true'. Casts, busts, medals and gems would be displayed on the ground floor of the Library to illustrate the “historic development of art”, and to instruct the public in the “chief epochs of mental pre-eminence;.7
Redond Barry, president of the trustees and chancellor of the University, carefully elaborated the Museum of Art's educational intention when he directed Hugh Childers and others about ecquiring works in England. Since it was the “first step” towards forming “the Public Taste”, it was vital to choose works that would arouse “a craving” for “refined intellectual entertainment'. Like of books for the Library, a “respectable mediocrity” was
rejected. Victoria would have only the “choicest examples of Ancient and Modern High Classic Art'. Precise instructions were given for the purchase of reproductions rather than single original pieces. High quality paintings were deemed unaffordable. Reproductions would best illustrate the history of art and culture, and provide diverse examples from which local artists and artisans could learn. Barry believed that photographs, prints and casts would give the Museum of Art a solid educational foundation.8
Placing casts of classical statues or busts of famous men in close proximity to a library was not a new idea. Barry, McCoy and others who had been to the British Museum or Trinity College, Dublin, were familiar with the practice. Representing the ideal forms of the ancient world, classical sculptures expressed civic virtues of goodness, truth and beauty. They were “instruments of civilisation'.9 Cultural reformers like Barry assumed that repeated experience of classical art arranged in series, rather than singular works, would cultivate the aesthetic and moral sensibilities of civilised society. Observing objects that were pure and perfect, Ruskin and his followers argued, enabled people to develop a taste for the good, and thereby strengthen their moral nature. It was no accident that casts of classical statutes stood in the pleasure grounds of the Cremorne Gardens, for it was anticipated they would lift the tone of that popular Melbourne resort and induce respectable behaviour. Learning about classical art in the Museum of Art was conceived of as a transformative experience for the individual and society. It contributed to the liberal cultural agenda of producing self-sufficient citizens who were responsible for their own material and moral improvement.10

The Museum of Art

Located in the south wing of the Library's ground floor, the Museum of Art was opened to the public on 24 May 1861. If His Excellency, Sir Henry Barkly, the governor of Victoria, considered it the foundation of a future “Museum of the Fine Arts”, Barry was unequivocal that the “primary idea” was “the establishment of a School of Design'. The Museum's sculpture gallery was educational, intended as much for improving practical knowledge and skills as for refining pure taste. Barkly conceded that it was “the first step” towards a school where “the future artificers and manufacturers of Victoria may be imbued with purity of taste and correct principles of beauty'.11
Though crammed into a restricted space, the sculpture gallery revealed the Museum of Art's educational purpose. Sculptures were grouped chronologically to illustrate the “historical development of art” from ancient to “modern times'. The progress of art through consecutive eras was thus made visible.12 Visitors learned about individual works by reading the written information accompanying each object. The painted label on each pedestal identified the sculpture and its provenance; a printed card attached to the pedestal explained the object's significance. Not only was the work described in plain English but the card also included “extracts in different languages” about the work, and references to writers, whether historical or poetic, who had alluded to it.
By adopting the principle of labelled displays used in science and natural history museums, which, Barry recognised, was rarely found in art museums, the sculpture gallery was a visual catalogue. Walking from one sculpture to the next, the visitor physically and mentally moved through a classification of historical time and an interpretation of the collection. The fact that casts, rather than original objects, were exhibited was not important, for significance lay in the historical series. Its very organisation made the sculpture gallery a school of design, where the artist, artisan, or classical scholar could be self-educating. Providing people with an opportunity to sketch from casts in the gallery, the Museum enabled those already skilled in drawing to continue learning.13
No sooner was the Museum of Art opened than suggestions were made for its improvement. Thomas Clark, who conducted a school of design for the Victorian Society of Fine Arts during the 1850s, advocated a formal school in conjunction with the Museum. He argued that a school of art was essential for improving local products, and so that aspiring artists could learn effectively under a “competent instructor'. Envisaging a more didactic role for the Museum than Barry's idea of self-education in the sculpture gallery, Clark urged the teaching of drawing. Although drawing was a fundamental skill for artist and artisan, there were few opportunities in the colony for adults to learn how to draw or to extend their existing skills.14
Despite Clark's belief that structured teaching was imperative, there was little evidence in the early 1860s that the need was pressing. Artists and civic reformers wanted to develop the public's taste, but the market for locally produced art works only gradually emerged in response to an urbanising population's demand for housing and decorative household goods. Demand for art not only required a discerning eye but also the production of high quality works, and a consuming public. While the colony's protective tariff was expected to expand manufacturing and employment, public exhibitions preparatory to the international expositions aimed to increase local consumption and stimulate the Victorian economy. Displaying the colony's industrial and artistic progress, Melbourne's public exhibitions spurred public demand for domestic goods. Nonetheless, agricultural and mining products dominated Victoria's exhibits at the 1861 Victoria Exhibition and the 1862 London Exhibition. The range of locally manufactured products was more extensive than in the 1854 Exhibition, and fine arts exhibits received awards, but it was evident that the colony's artistic and ornamental production was limited.15
When Barry represented Victoria at the 1862 London Exhibition, he acquired works for the Museum of Art, including casts and educational material from the South Kensington Museum, an “illustrative series” of ceramics, and an educational series from the Science and Art Department. It is no wonder that within a short time of its opening the Museum required more space. Augustus Tulk, the librarian, hoped that the north wing extension to the Library would provide a “Studio and Library” for the art books and photographs, and a “new room for a Sculpture Gallery” and the “apparatus and series of works for a School of Art'. It would then be feasible to establish a formal art school like those connected with the South Kensington Museum. On the other hand, the Argus argued that the Library and Museum of Art's
popularity and success in providing the “operative classes” with the means for “self-education” and “rational enjoyment” justified “a Hall of Art'.16

A Public Art Gallery

Recognition given to colonial artists at the Exhibitions, greater public interest in art exhibitions and informed criticism in the press gathered support for a public picture gallery. In 1863 Parliament voted one thousand pounds for a “National Gallery”, and the government appointed a Board, later replaced by the Fine Arts Commission, to determine the “best mode of expending” the money.17
From 1863 until the Commission presented its final report in 1865, public debate over the role of a public art gallery, which erupted over whether the Commission should acquire original contemporary works or copies of masterpieces, stirred people's interest in seeing pictures. Central to the dispute was the purpose of the proposed National Picture Gallery. If formed to give the public an idea about some of the world's greatest paintings, then a gallery of copies would suffice. However, if it served the “higher purpose” of educating the people about art, original works were needed, so it could be a “school of art in itself, and a means of art education for the future'.18
The Commission decided that the public gallery should acquire contemporary art, rather than be a school of historical paintings. It would contain works of “original genius”, portraying “what is congenial to the feelings and habit of thought of the present age”, and exclude works that people could not readily understand. “Modern” European art would “more correctly” guide “public taste” and “better” instruct youthful minds than historical works. Sir Charles Eastlake, director of the National Gallery in London, was asked to select appropriate pictures, and prize money was reserved for the colonial artist whose painting was selected for the collection after a public competition.19
The Commission's first priority was improving the “taste of the general mass of society'. However, acknowledging the need for a school of art, it also acquired copies of “pictures in European National Collections” to illustrate the history of art. Having “choice works” by “contemporary artists” and copies of selective historical works, the art collection would be as “attractive to the general public” as it would be “instructive” for students of painting. Emphasising the collection's educational intent, the Commission recommended associating it with the “central and convenient” Public Library, so people would have access to the Library's art books and the Museum of Art's “casts and moulds'. Having the “same liberality” as the Library, the National Picture Gallery would be free and open to all the people, even in the evenings. Since the collection was public property, the people's vigilance would protect it from theft and damage. Dispelling fears that the pictures belonged only to the people of Melbourne, the Commission planned to diffuse the “improving, refining, and elevating influences” of art throughout the community by lending works for exhibition in country towns, and by a public exhibition of art borrowed from private collections.

Our National Gallery: A new picture and its critics. 1873. Australasian Sketcher, 9 August 1873, Wood engraving. La Trobe Picture Collection.

The north wing of the Library was completed in December 1864. No longer crowded together, the casts of statuary in the Museum of Art were rearranged on the ground floor. The paintings selected by Eastlake, Chevalier's prize winning The Buffalo Ranges, and the works of other colonial artists were exhibited in a temporary picture gallery in the north wing of the first floor of the Library. The Fine Arts Commission Exhibition was enormously popular. For five weeks from 24 December 1864, over twenty-six thousand people visited the Exhibition, approximately 4 per cent of the colony's total population but about one person in every six who lived in Melbourne. Thereafter, the Commission's acquisitions remained at the Library in the custody of the trustees, and in 1870 the new National Gallery assumed formal responsibility for the collection.20
Public interest in seeing original paintings was stimulated by the Intercolonial Exhibition, which was held in a new Exhibition Building erected on the Library's site from October 1866 to February 1867. The picture collection was moved from the Picture Gallery for temporary exhibition in the ornamental arts section of the Exhibition. Although drawn to their “old favourites” from “the picture gallery in the Public Library”, visitors did not “linger for long” in the Fine Arts Room, for they were distracted by the bewildering number, variety and

Samuel Calvert, engraver. Opening of the new Fine Arts Gallery, Public Library. 1875. Illustrated Australian News. 14 June 1875. Wood engraving. La Trobe Picture Collection.

beauty of objects in the Exhibition. Almost half the total population of Victoria visited the Exhibition. Such a large display of art works, mostly by colonial artists, broadened public interest in art. The publicity given to their work buoyed local artists, and the opportunity to compare and evaluate the works of colonial artists boosted art criticism. Above all, the Exhibition engendered enthusiasm for improving colonial manufactures and fostering new industries, which gave impetus to the Museum of Art's educational role.21
The Exhibition Building promised more space for the art collections. However, it was quickly realised that the temporary “superstructure” of “wood, glass and ironworks” was neither fireproof nor appropriate for housing “treasures of art or delicate specimens and preparations of a perishable nature'.22 From 1867 the art collections remained in the temporary Picture Gallery on the south side of the Library. Paintings were no longer “crowded together” or subject to the deleterious effect of sunlight, as they were in the Reading Room, but people complained that the paintings were deadened by the “dirty greyish green” colour of the walls. Rather than being exhibited in a “lightsome gallery”, the “casts from antique sculpture” were placed beneath the Library in the “dim vaults” that had served as refreshment rooms for the Exhibition, which limited public access and undermined their educational effectiveness. It was not until 1875, after mounting evidence that the art collections were being damaged by heat, dust and smoke,
that the government finally built a new National Picture Gallery to preserve the works of art.23

The School of Design

After the Intercolonial Exhibition, a formal school of design was established in association with the Museum of Art to instruct skilled workers and “young mechanics” in the “practical” manufacture of art. Access to a “comprehensive collection” of industrial arts, Barry argued, would assist art workers who were “gifted with a quick eye”, a “schooled habit of observation”, and “a hand obedient to the direction of well-grounded judgement'. Ultimately, a student's “personal success” would refine the “taste of the general public'.24
As was the practice in European art galleries, Victorian artists and students enhanced their skills by systematically copying from the casts of ancient sculpture and works of the masters exhibited in the Museum of Art and the Picture Gallery. Some, like Sophie Cox from Brighton, wanted to draw from the paintings in the morning light. Others, like architect P. Mathews, wished to sketch in the sculpture room in the evenings because “business and appointments” prevented them visiting during the day. Professional artists, such as Thomas Carrington of Melbourne Punch, improved their skills “in drawing the human figure” by sketching “from the models in the Statuary Room'; while A. Cooke copied paintings to make engravings for the illustrated press.25 In the “new School of Design”, it was expected that people would enrich and refine existing knowledge and skills, rather than be instructed in new skills or techniques. In the presence of elegant and useful objects, art practitioners would form “palpable ideas” about the art works they wanted “to fashion into shape'.26
When the Museum of Art's school of design opened in June 1867, the trustees were inundated with requests for the “privilege” of sketching in the school each morning. Many were teachers in the Common Schools who were keen to advance their skills in a profession where “knowledge of drawing” was “a necessary accomplishment'. Others were art workers. Some like glass painters J. L. Lyon and J. M. McNichol were eager to gain admission, but regretted that business prevented their attendance during the day.27
Practising artists continued to sketch and paint in the Picture Gallery, but were frustrated by having to pack up at noon, so soon after mixing tints and “without using them up'. In an effort to encourage students and alleviate disadvantage, individuals were often granted extended time or flexible hours in the galleries. After all, Barry reflected, he had “seen persons painting in the Galleries in Europe at all hours of the day'.28 By the beginning of 1868, formal regulations were established. People wishing to “paint, draw or model in the School of Design in connection with the Museum of Art” had to make a formal application and provide two referees. Once admitted, students signed a daily register and were permitted to work in the “Gallery from nine to one” and in the “School of Design from nine to four'.29
When it was suggested the public should not be excluded from the Picture Gallery during the “best hours of the day, as far as light is concerned”, and that copying should be confined to one whole day during the working week, rather than “a few hours each day”, the
students objected. Forming a cohesive group, they argued that since most of them were teachers and their only free day was Saturday, such a change would exclude them.30 For the “art workman, the manufacturer and tradesman”, the more contentious issue was lack of access to the collections during the early morning and evening, when they were not at work. The fact that the School of Design was closed to the very people for whom it was established made it a sham, one “Art Student” declaimed. It existed for those few “members of the higher class, who study art for an accomplishment, and to occupy their too much leisure'.31
Having gained the daytime hours that suited them, students lobbied the trustees for evening hours and for the appointment of a teacher of painting and drawing. Demand for access to the galleries at night was so great that prospective students were even prepared to contribute to the cost of lighting. Initially, students were content to instruct one another, for they argued that the self-reliant “art workman” could “do without a teacher'.32 By 1868 students” confidence in their ability to instruct themselves had waned. They urged the trustees to acquire funds for an art teacher, to open the galleries at night, and to move the “School of Design” to a better location. Public response to the students” demands was ambivalent. Although the Argus was “hopeful” that it would attract more students to the Museum, Melbourne Punch disapproved of the students” “cheek”, and opposed spending public money so a few could “acquire an education in a non-essential art at the expense of the rest'. The Evening Star feared that without a teacher the Museum's art school would “degenerate into a place of resort for young and objectless men to spend a pleasant hour in'.33
The trustees lacked the authority to create a salaried position, but expected the government would fund a salary, and so advertised for a drawing master. Many of the colony's artists applied for the position, including von Guerard, Louis Buvelot and Oswald Rose Campbell.34 However, the parliamentary deadlock over the government's grant to Lady Darling prevented the Estimates being passed, and the trustees were forced to postpone the appointment. In the interim, students were asked if they were prepared to pay for tuition, but few could afford the “requisite sum'.35 Since it was “premature” to appoint a teacher, von Guerard was offered the position as an honorarium, which he declined because lack of a stipend would diminish his status as a “Professor of Art'.36
Of the thirty to forty students enrolled in the Museum of Art's school of design, only eight attended regularly. The Age observed that talented and diligent students worked in an undirected, “haphazard style”, to the detriment of their education. Only a “competent master” and an alteration in the hours would increase student numbers and improve their work. The Argus maintained that the school's broad educational role was “refining the feelings and educating the tastes of the great mass of the people'. Therefore, a highly “cultivated, enlarged and purified” mind was needed to “direct the hand” of the student, rather than a mere “teacher of the practical art'.37
It was not until 1869, after the political crisis was resolved, that Parliament voted the substantial sum of four hundred pounds for the salary of a “Drawing-master, with fees'. The
position was advertised, but the government cautioned it was “undesirable” to appoint a teacher before an Act was passed to unify the national collections and enlarge the Board of Trustees.38 No appointment was made until the National Gallery was established in 1870, when the position was re-advertised, together with the position of painting master.39
By comparison with the local schools of design established in connection with the Technological Commission during 1869, the Museum of Art's school of design seemed “unproductive'. Even though it had “all the advantages of State support”, an immense collection of models and four hundred pounds voted by Parliament to expend on teaching, it was less effective in educating the practical art worker.40 The trustees acknowledged that without a teacher students had derived little benefit from “their exertions” in the Museum of Art. In April 1870, the newly formed National Gallery committee decided to establish two distinct schools of art, a school of design and a school of painting, under the supervision of different masters.41

The Picture Gallery

In Victoria by the late 1860s, there was growing conviction that for art to flourish the people needed to learn how to look at pictures, and students required formal instruction in art theory and practice. Giving people “the eye” to “see” art and facilitating their ability to make art were the fundamental educational roles of public art collections.
The way visitors looked at the paintings in the Library's Picture Gallery, the Argus proclaimed in 1868, showed that public taste, “if such a thing exists at all”, was not yet cultured. What caught the eye of “the great mass” of the visitors had nothing to do with “true principles of taste” or informed judgement about the merits or defects of the works. Unfamiliar with the language of art and aesthetics, and lacking knowledge of art history, most visitors to the Picture Gallery did not share the meanings that the “one in a thousand” person of cultivated taste perceived. Nevertheless, visitors were not intimidated by, but gained confidence in, the company of the “great mass” of so-called uncultivated taste, and made the art works familiar by relating them to their known world. In Victoria, the “uncultured” were not necessarily confined to the working classes, nor was economic position a clear marker of whether a person had a cultivated mind or cultured taste. Frederick McCubbin, the baker's son who became one of Australia's best known and loved artists, was certainly not the only visitor who, though familiar with decorative art, had “never been in a gallery before and had only seen an occasional picture'.42
In the civic space of the Picture Gallery, people as well as pictures were on display. Free to observe other people as they looked and talked about the art works, some visitors flaunted their knowledge of art, while others listened and even learned some conventions for talking about art. It gave those with a “true” appreciation of art an occasion to condescendingly dismiss other visitors for their ignorance and poor taste. The Argus was aghast to overhear “a well-dressed individual”, who examined “the exquisite chromo-lithographs” with “quite a cognoscente-like appearance”, remark ““Holloa! This is some of John Chinaman's work”, and give vent to the most high-flown admiration in the presence of Baxter's execrable daubs'.43

Charles Nettleton, photographer. View of gallery from balcony, showing paintings on walls and screens and seating for viewing. July 1869. Albumen silver photograph. H12958. La Trobe Picture Collection.

By the late 1860s, public “taste for works of art” was reflected in strong consumer demand for reproductions. It was predicted that with increasing wealth, growth of a “leisure-class” and “formation of family residences” demand for original works would multiply. Evidence of this desire for art, especially for seeing paintings, was shown by the Library's outstandingly successful Loan Exhibition of “Works of Art, Ornamental and Decorative Art”, which was held in the “Great Hall of the Institution” from March to June 1869. People flocked to see the “art treasures” and press coverage was extensive. Many of the sixty thousand visitors to the Exhibition, about a third of Melbourne's population, came in the evenings, particularly on Saturday nights when admission was cheap at six pence.44 No matter that critics considered the exhibits uneven in quality, Victorians were so enthusiastic about seeing art that the public art exhibition idea was quickly adopted in the country, and popular exhibitions were held in Geelong, Ballarat and Sandhurst.45
Visitors to these and other art exhibitions were invariably represented as a respectable, respectful and orderly crowd. Men and women, occasionally accompanied by children, leisurely strolled through the Gallery, gazing at the paintings and conferring with companions. Seated in the central space, they discussed the exhibits or, in solitude, stared at a single work.46
Between the visitor's eye and the picture on the wall, however, there was little to help people grasp the significance that the art works were arranged to represent. Unlike the Museum of Art, in the Gallery people were not guided to understand the collections” meanings by a chronological narrative or instructive labelling or a catalogue.
The absence of overt interpretation implied that people were able to educate themselves about individual works, and that the experience of seeing art was sufficient to elevate their taste. The press assumed an active responsibility for culturally equipping the visitor to see and understand the significance of each new work as it entered the collection. Art critics, especially Smith, advised people how to “see” a picture: where to stand, how to look, and what to look for. The fact that the picture collection was established incrementally gave people the chance to gradually learn about individual works, instead of being bewildered or discouraged by seeing a vast collection of pictures.47
The policy of collecting contemporary art, which was deliberately chosen so that the people could learn about art through seeing familiar subjects, meant that works in a single-room gallery were hung randomly or according to size, instead of chronologically or within schools or periods of art. For the Argus, the lack of visible order in the Picture Gallery, with its “ill-arranged” and “heterogeneous confusion”, was perplexing, and stopped people from learning about the qualities of individual works and their relationship to other works. To be educational, the pictures needed to be “seen apart” or in “suitable company'.48 Nevertheless, the moderate size of the picture collection, its familiar subject matter, and exhibition in a single room encouraged people of all classes to self-confidently return to see their favourite pictures. If the Gallery lacked explicit didactic instruction, it did not detract from its increasing popularity as a place for “intelligent recreation'.49


The Museum of Art and the Picture Gallery at the Public Library were formed to cultivate public taste, instil the values of civil society, enhance skill in art production, and increase the demand for, and quality of, local art products. If there was uncertainty about whether the “left wing of the Library” was a “fine arts gallery or a school of design”, the role of the public art museum was clarified in 1870.50 The National Gallery was principally a public gallery of contemporary paintings. The Museum of Art's educational casts were relegated to the Gallery's Schools of Design and Painting for instructing art students, and art works valued for their educational purpose, rather than solely their visual appeal, were placed in a separate study room. No longer cultivating public taste and knowledge of art through the elevating and civilising influence of classical sculpture, the Gallery revered the original painting and fostered a love of art through the display of popular taste.51


This paper draws on the following histories of the National Gallery: Leonard B. Cox, The National Gallery of Victoria, 1861–1968: A Search for a Collection, Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, [1968], pp. 11–38; Christine Downer and Jennifer Phipps, Victorian Vision: 1834 Onwards. Images and Records from the National Gallery of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, 1985; Ann Galbally, The Collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1987, pp. 9–33; and Ann Galbally and Alison Inglis, with Christine Downer and Terence Lane, The First Collections: The Public Library and the National Gallery of Victoria in the 1850s and 1860s, Melbourne, University of Melbourne Museum of Art, 1992.


Brandon Taylor, Art for the Nation: Exhibitions and the London Public, 1747–2001, New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1999, p. 77; and Tony Bennett, The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics, London, Routledge, 1995, p. 165.


Examiner, and Melbourne Weekly Times, 21 May 1859; Bernard Smith with Terry Smith, Australian Painting, 1788–1900, 3d ed., Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1990, pp. 58–59; and Lurline Stuart, James Smith: The Making of a Colonial Culture, Sydney, Allen & Unwin, 1989, pp. 85–88, p. 113.


[Redmond Barry], Report of the Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library. Presented to His Excellency Major-General Macarthur, Acting Governor-General and Governor-in-Chief of the Colony of Victoria and Its Dependencies, on the Occasion of Opening the Library, on Monday, the 11th Day of February, 1856, N.p., [1856]; Frederick McCoy, On the Formation of Museums in Victoria, Melbourne, Goodhugh & Hough, 1857, p. 4, p. 20; and Argus, 5 December 1857.


VPRS 5501, unit 1. J. H. Rusden to R. Barry, 21 February, 21 September 1860. Public Record Office Victoria (PROV); and Edmund La Touche Armstrong, The Book of the Public Library, Museums, and National Gallery of Victoria, 1856–1906, Melbourne, The Trustees of the Public Library, Museums, and National Gallery, 1906, p. 7, pp. 11–12.


Examiner, and Melbourne Weekly Times, 20 November 1858, 21 May 1859.


[Redmond Barry], Address of the Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library Presented to His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, Governor-in-Chief of the Colony of Victoria, on the Opening of the Queen's Reading Room, on Tuesday May 24th, 1859, Being the Birthday of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, with the Reply of His Excellency the Governor, N.p., [1859].


VPRS 4730, unit 1. Barry to [the Trustees], 29 April 1859, Barry to H. Childers, 16 May 1859; VPRS 4366, unit 1. Barry to C. J. La Trobe, 16 May 1859, PROV; and Argus, 9 November 1861.


Argus, 5 December 1857; and Ann Galbally, Redmond Barry; An Anglo-Irish Australian, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1995, pp. 111–12, p. 131.


Tony Bennett, “Speaking to the Eyes: Museums, Legibility and the Social Order”, in Sharon Macdonald, ed., The Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture, London, Routledge, 1998, pp. 30–31; Didier Maleuvre, Museum Memories: History, Technology, Art, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1999, p. 10; and Michael J. Ettema, “History Museums and the Culture of Materialism”, in Jo Blatti, ed., Past Meets Present: Essays about Historical Interpretation and Public Audiences, Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987, pp. 66–68.


[Redmond Barry], Address of the Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library, Presented to His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B., Governor-in-Chief of the Colony of Victoria on the Opening of the Museum of Art, on Friday, May 24th 1861, Being the Birthday of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, with His Excellency's Reply, N.p., [1861].


VPRS 4730, unit 1. Barry, memorandum, [1860], PROV; and Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, Museums, and National Gallery of Victoria, Victorian Parliamentary Papers (VPP), 1871, vol. 2, no. 13, p. 24.


MS 8380, box 599. Barry to R. E. C. Waters, March 1861. Barry Papers. La Trobe Australian Manuscripts Collection (La Trobe MSS), State Library of Victoria (SLV); and Bennett, Birth of the Museum, p. 44, pp. 167–71.


VPRS 5831, unit 1. T. Clark to G. Verdon, 20 August 1861. PROV; and Victorian Society of Fine Arts, The School of Design, N.p., [1857].


Examiner, and Melbourne Weekly Times, 28 September, 30 November 1861; Illustrated Melbourne Post, 15 November 1862; Victorian Exhibition, 1861. London International Exhibition, 1862: First Report of the Exhibition Commissioners, VPP, 1860–61, vol. 3, no. 62, pp. 8–15; and Graeme Davison, “The Culture of the International Exhibitions”, in David Dunstan, ed., Victorian Icon: The Royal Exhibition Building Melbourne, Melbourne, Exhibition Trustees in association with Australian Scholarly Publishing, 1996, pp. 11–18.


MS 8380, box 599. Barry to A. Tulk, 9 February 1862. Barry Papers. La Trobe MSS, SLV; VPRS 4366, unit 2. J. Palmer to J. O'Shanassy, 20 August 1862, Tulk to the Trustees, 27 August 1862, PROV; and Argus, 1 August 1862.


VPRS 4730, unit 1. [Fine Arts Commission], Minutes of a Preliminary Meeting of the Board…29th August, 1863, Melbourne, John Ferres, [1863], and Appointment of the Commission of Enquiry as to the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Victoria, 2 October 1863. PROV. See also MS 7855, box 1199/2. Fine Arts Commission. Papers, 1863–67. La Trobe MSS, SLV.


Argus, 23 September 1863; Second Progress Report of the Commission on the Fine Arts, VPP, 1864–65, vol. 4, no. 58; VPRS 4730, unit 1. Fine Arts Commission Papers, 1863. PROV; and MS 8380, box 599. Barry to Waters, 25 December 1863. Barry Papers. La Trobe MSS, SLV.


Second Progress Report, pp. 6–8, 14–16; and VPRS 5839, unit 1. Barry to C. Eastlake, 25 March 1864. PROV.


Second Progress Report, pp. 6–19; Statistics of the Colony of Victoria, 1865, VPP, First Session 1867, vol. 3, no. 12a, p. 7; and Report of the Trustees, pp. 66–68.


Illustrated Melbourne Post, 27 November 1866, 25 February 1867; Armstrong, p. 20; J. G. Knight, “Introduction”, in Intercolonial Exhibition, Melbourne, 1866–67, Official Record…, Melbourne, Blundell & Co., 1867, p. xix, p. xxxvii; and Downer and Phipps, p. 32.


Age, 16 April 1867.


Argus, 24 April, 27 November 1867; Australasian, 20 July 1867; “Our Art Gallery”, Colonial Monthly, vol. 2, June 1868, p. 308; Report of the Trustees…1875, VPP, 1876, vol. 2, no. 4, p. 37; Armstrong, p. 36; and [Barry, Redmond], Catalogue of the Oil Paintings in the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery of Victoria, 1875, Melbourne, Stillwell & Knight, 1875, pp. 15–18.


[Redmond Barry], Catalogues of the Objects of Ceramic Art and School of Design at the Melbourne Public Library, Melbourne, John Ferres, [1867], p. 4, pp. 19–21; and [Public Library of Victoria], Introduction to the School of Design, N.p., [1867], in SLV, “Newspaper Cuttings Relating to the Public Library, Museum and National Gallery of Victoria, 1861–1948”, vol. 17.


VPRS 5831, unit 1. S, Cox to Barry, 18 September 1865; VPRS 5839, unit 3. P. Mathews to Barry, 29 November 1865; VPRS 5486, units 3, 1. T. Carrington to Barry, 24 January 1867, A. Cooke to the Trustees, 21 June 1867. PROV.


Introduction to the School of Design.


VPRS 5839, unit. P. Drummond to the Trustees, 15 July 1867, J. L. Lyon and J. McNichol to the Trustees, 5 September 1867. PROV.


VPRS 5839, unit 1. W. Rosche to Barry, with Barry to Tulk on reverse, 19 July 1867, Lyon and McNichol to the Trustees, 5 September 1867; VPRS 5863, unit 1. Tulk to Lyon and McNichol, 4, 12 September 1867. PROV.


VPRS 5839, unit 2. Students of the School of Design to Tulk, 7 December 1867; VPRS 5863, unit 1. “Form of Application'. PROV; and MSF 12855, vol. 13a. Trustees of the Public Library. Minutes, 29 January 1868. Records of the State Library of Victoria, 1870–1965. La Trobe MSS, SLV.


Argus, 7 December 1867; and VPRS 5839, unit 2. Students to Tulk, 7 December 1867, PROV.


Age, 14 September 1868.


VPRS 5839, unit 1. J. McNichol to the Trustees, 1 July 1867. PROV; and Age, 14 September 1868.


Argus, 18 February 1868; Melbourne Punch, February 1868; and Evening Star, 1, 6 February 1868.


VPRS 804, unit 1. Barry to Tulk, 21 September 1868; VPRS 1074, unit 5. E. von Guerard to the Trustees, 25 February 1868, and O. R. Campbell to the Trustees, 14 February 1868; VPRS 5839, unit 2. L. Buvelot to the Trustees, 28 May 1868. PROV; MSF 12855, vol. 13a. Trustees. Minutes, 4 June 1868, SLV Records. La Trobe MSS, SLV.


VPRS 5839, unit 2. Students to the Trustees, June 1868, PROV; and Raymond Wright. A People's Counsel: A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856–1900, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1992, pp. 78–80.


Argus, 5 August 1868; VPRS 4366, unit 3. Tulk to von Guerard, 16 September 1868, Barry to Tulk, 21 September 1868, von Guerard to Tulk, 18, 29 September 1868; VPRS 804, unit 1. Tulk to von Guerard, 21 September 1868. PROV.


Age, 13 November 1868; and Argus, 30 December 1868.


Victorian Parliamentary Debates, vol. 7 (1869), p. 137; VPRS 5528, unit 2. W. H. Odgers to Barry, 11 March 1869. PROV; MSF 12855, vol. 13a. Trustees. Minutes, 8 March 1869. SLV Records. La Trobe MSS, SLV; and Argus, 10 March 1869.


VPRS 1074, unit 5. Applications folder. PROV; and Report of the Trustees.


Daily Telegraph, 20 July 1869; and see Technological Commission, Victoria, Reports and Papers Published by the Technological Commission, Melbourne, Mason, Firth, & McCutcheon, 1870.


Report of the Trustees, p. 69, pp. 93–94; and VPRS 5839, unit 4. Barry to C. Duffy, 21 April 1870. PROV.


Argus, 30 December 1868; and MS 10302, msb 193. Frederick McCubbin. Autobiographical Reminiscences, [c.1910]. La Trobe MSS, SLV; and see Pierre Bourdieu and Alain Darbel, with Dominiques Schnapper, The Love of Art: European Art Museums and Their Public, trans Caroline Beattie and Nick Merriman, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1997, pp. 44–55.


Argus, 30 December 1868; and Bennett, Birth of the Museum, p. 169.


Argus, 5 August 1868, 30 March 1869; [Redmond Barry], Preface to Catalogue of the Works of Art, Ornamental and Decorative Art Exhibited by the Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library and Museum in March, April and May 1869, Melbourne, Mason, Firth & Co., 1869; Report of the Trustees, p. 68; Herald, 29 March 1869; Age, 21 June 1869; and Downer and Phipps, pp. 38–39.


Leader, 3 July 1869; Age, 22 July 1869; and Argus, 22, 31 July 1869.


For example, Australasian News for Home Readers, 25 January 1865; see also Illustrated Australian News, 14 June 1875; and Australasian Sketcher, 22 December 1877.


Argus, 30 December 1868; and Stuart, pp. 113–118.


Argus, 27 November 1867, 30 December 1868; and “Our Art Gallery”, p. 308.


[John Hunter Kerr]. Glimpses of Life in Victoria, by “A Resident'. 1876, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, Miegunyah Press, 1996, p. 260; and Statistics of the Colony of Victoria, 1862–70.


Australasian, 7 October 1867.


Ann Galbally, “The Lost Museum: Redmond Barry and Melbourne's Musée des Copies”, Australian Journal of Art, vol. 7, 1988, pp. 28–49; Argus, 10 February 1870; and Galbally et al., pp. 66–68, p. 80.