Visit to NGV International

7 07 2010

The post has been months in the making, as I have been delayed on writing it due to other exhibitions and holidays and other such distractions. In March this year I visited the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) International stores of contemporary jewellery with curator Amanda Dunsmore.

The store cupboard of contemporary jewellery at the NGV is not large, but as expected tidy and well organised. The cabinet has its own lighting and is usually kept dark as the materials of some pieces are sensitive (eg. paper).

the stores of contemporary jewellery at the NGV International; photograph taken and published with permission

Amanda was very generous with her time, and patient in answering my many questions about collecting and the collection.

In the year I’ve been writing this blog the contemporary jewellery display at the NGV(I) has only changed once (though I admit I haven’t had a chance to go back since March). I have always found the slow turnover disappointing, however I do understand that the NGV has many collections and future exhibitions that require the attention of curators too. After speaking with Amanda I understood this more.

In the lead up to the visit, I had been searching the NGV online catalogue, and while it does not hold the complete collection of contemporary jewellery works, it showed a handful of these (only some included photographs).

What I did find interesting as I went through the online catalogue and looked at the labels of the collection cabinet is that many of the pieces were collected in ‘peaks’ of attention to jewellery (I was going to call them ‘binges’ but that didn’t really sound right!). It looks like 2005 was a busy year for purchasing and presentations through the NGV Foundation (most by John McPhee), and I remember at the time thinking a period during the 70s or 80s was also a good time for the jewellery collection.

Also interesting is that there are not many pieces gifted to the gallery by bequest. What happens to the collections of contemporary jewellery lovers? I’ve given this some thought myself recently as I was updating my will (something I do every five years or so, the responsible grown-up that I am!). My collection is admittedly little and the artists within it are not yet held in such collections – but in time they may be … what could I do with the collection? Other than national galleries (NGV, NG, etc) what other publicly accessible collections exist that could make the pieces available to others to see? Would they want my little group? Questions perhaps for another time…

Anyway, I plan is to visit the NGV(I) again soon (it’s been a long time indeed), and also to hopefully visit the stores of the Australian collection in the near future.



2 responses

13 07 2010
katie jayne

Can I ask, did you have to ask to see the collection at the NGV or is it open to the public? I have one week of school holidays left and I’d really love to see this collection.

13 07 2010

Hi Katie
To see the NGV store-room collection it is necessary to make an appointment. To find a time that worked for both Amanda and I, we made our appointment five weeks ahead … so I’m not sure one week would be enough notice for the curator, but it’s certainly worth trying. You can find Amanda’s contact details on the NGV website, or through the general enquiries email (or phone maybe, given your time is limited).
There is also a small group from the collection usually on display to the public – in the International gallery (St Kilda Rd building) on the top floor in International Decorative/Design (cannot remember the exact name of the room!) …

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