On collections, continued

20 08 2010

Last month I wrote about private collections, and especially wanted to know more about the collection formed from the many acquisitive awards at RMIT.

I had thought the W.E McMillan collection was a separate grouping, however now I understand it is formed from all of the acquisitive prizes. While one exhibition has already been shown with work sourced from this rich group, what more can be done?

It is such a significant group of pieces, for it has been added to continuously since the 1960s. Would it be too much to call it a collection of national significance? I wouldn’t think that’s going too far.

Can you imagine the pieces here, early pieces from subsequently successful jewellers and silversmiths, and exciting pieces from the bloom of beginning study and exploration (those bright stars that burnt early and quick)!

Can you imagine the progression you could see through time, how over the years the pieces would reflect their times, and exciting this would be to see and study!

So, what would I ideally like to happen with this collection:

  • for it to be photographed and available digitally as an online resource (perhaps also published in a book)
  • for it to be physically available to students at RMIT and in fact the public (I expect all the pieces are sitting in cupboards wrapped in acid-free paper and not seen by anyone)
  • does the collection have a curator? how are the pieces cared for (are they ‘cared for’ or maintained)?

All fine intentions, but I expect RMIT doesn’t have funding to extend to employing someone to do this. Does that mean a private donation is required? Can a fundraising campaign be organised and run (though of course it would need a committed champion and appropriate measures for protection and application of raised funds)? Would alumni be willing to volunteer some time to contributing to their own legacy?

What would you be willing to do to make such an incredible resource of the arts available to students and the public?

Update (22nd August): a friend suggested that perhaps I can make a grant application for funding to complete the digital recording (and any maintainance needed for optimal imagery … given the pieces have probably been wrapped in paper for so long, I wonder how the more delicate materials are?) … maybe this is my next project!



4 responses

11 09 2010
Claire O'Halloran

Karen – I’m glad you brought this up. I was glad to see some of this collection exhibited in 2008, but I’d love to see it made much more accessible to students and the public too – yes, even a digital online resource would be great. Let me know if you do make this your next project. I’d love to help out.

11 09 2010

Great to hear from you Claire! Thank you for the offer of solidarity on a project to get this collection more available to the public – the more people involved the better the chance of some success.

I am feeling quite passionate about the incredible resource that must exist in this collection… it must surely be considered of national importance.

I was thinking that I need to understand more about the scale and makeup (and existence/not of a full register/catalogue) of the collection before getting too carried away, so I need to have some more discussions with RMIT I think…

Do you think photography for an online catalogue would be the first phase (second being more student/public access)?

Perhaps involving third year and alumni in the cleaning/care for the pieces would be a great initiative too – by way of getting the pieces ready for photography, and also the students exposure to the collection…? Given the number of pieces, this isn’t a small task realistically…. but exciting to consider nonetheless.

What do other makers think – any more volunteers to get involved or with ideas on approach etc?

21 04 2011
The RMIT collection « Melbourne Jeweller

[…] year I wrote a few posts on the various public and private collections, and particularly was interested in the collection accumulated over time by RMIT from acquisitive prizes, called the W.E. McMillan […]

15 05 2015
RMIT Art Collection Online | Melbourne Jeweller

[…] 20Aug10 : On collections, continued […]

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