Leading Australian collector makes major donation


University of Melbourne vice chancellor Professor Glyn Davies (l) with Michael Buxton

Property developer and passionate art collector Michael Buxton has donated his private contemporary Australian art collection to the University of Melbourne. The move has been welcomed as one of the most significant acts of arts philanthropy to an Australian university.

The Michael Buxton Collection features more than 300 works by 53 of the country’s most significant Australian contemporary artists, including Howard Arkley, Ricky Swallow, Tracey Moffat, Emily Floyd, Patricia Piccinini and Bill Henson.

The Collection will be housed and showcased in a new purpose-built museum – the Michael Buxton Centre of Contemporary Art (MBCOCA), on the University’s Southbank Campus, home of the Faculty of Victorian College of the Arts & Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (VCA&MCM), on the corner of Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street and is expected to open in 2017.

The donation will comprise of the Collection as well as funds towards the construction and endowment of the museum and its operation over a 20-year term. The gift is also the biggest donation for Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne.

Michael Buxton said he and his family had always dreamt the collection would serve as an educational resource to help foster an appreciation for contemporary Australian art.

“By donating this magnificent collection to the University of Melbourne we are ensuring its longevity as a dynamic collection which will evolve and grow, educating future generations of students and serving as a resource for all Australians aspiring to understand or collect challenging contemporary art,” he said.

The donation of the Collection and the formation of the museum in the centre of the Southbank Precinct will be used to enhance the University’s curriculum across disciplines, fostering an innovative approach to student learning.

The museum will operate in conjunction with the University’s Ian Potter Museum of Art whose director, Kelly Gellatly said: “The Collection, which has been established with curatorial rigour, will enable the establishment of an extraordinary museum. It will showcase exhibitions that embrace experimentation and explore some of the major concerns of the 21st Century.

“Through the activities of the Potter’s Academic Programs unit – unique within Australia – the museum will facilitate object-based learning for undergraduate and graduate students from the University’s diverse faculties and different campuses.”

Professor Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne said, “Thanks to a wonderful partnership with Michael Buxton, this University will give the people of Melbourne unprecedented access to Australia’s finest contemporary art.

“We believe the impact of this gift will be profound, enhancing the Southbank Precinct’s position as the heart of Melbourne’s cultural life.”