Arts Flashback

To celebrate Arts Victoria's 40th anniversary we've hit the archives
and uncovered some choice moments in the development of
Victoria's arts sector.

Click on the images below to view the stories and photo galleries, share them with others, and find out how Victoria grew to be the arts and cultural powerhouse it is today.


Bell-bottoms, handlebar moustaches, platform shoes, our daring approach to fashion (and facial hair) belied an era of serious social change and political drama in 1970s Australia.

We scrapped the White Australia Policy and welcomed an era of multiculturalism. Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.

We had more leisure time that ever before. Norm coaxed us off the couch with Life. Be in it and we got fit. But when we weren't out BMXing, ten-pin bowling or roller-skating, we were listening to Skyhooks and Sherbet, tuning into the new world of FM radio, and watching Number 96 on our brand new colour TVs.

Here in Victoria, a creative community of artists, craftspeople, theatre-makers and musicians were laying the foundation of the mighty independent arts sector we enjoy today.

Premier Rupert Hamer put the arts firmly on the Government's agenda with the creation of Australia's first state Ministry for the Arts. Its first priorities? Getting the construction of Southbank's Arts Centre complex moving, creating a chain of regional performing arts centres, and bringing art out into the public.p>

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Outside Warrnambool Art Gallery during its opening festivities, 1986
Outside Warrnambool Art Gallery during its opening festivities, 1986


Warrnambool Art Gallery opens

It was the 80s – the 1880s – when a retired Police Inspector named Joseph Archibald established a Museum and Art Gallery in Warrnambool. His eclectic mix of original artworks, reproductions and museum curios were housed in a building behind the Mechanics Institute. A century later, in 1986, a purpose-built facility opened adjacent to the Civic Green, providing the first permanent home for the collection.


The development of the Warrnambool Art Gallery as we know it today was funded with contributions from local and state government at a total budget of $1.7 million. The Ministry for the Arts contributed $200,000 of the State Government's total contribution of $850,000. The Gallery – owned and operated by Warrnambool City Council – was dedicated as a memorial to local businessman and clothing manufacturer Sir Fletcher Jones, who had a close association with the gallery, sponsoring an annual art prize.

Today, Warrnambool Art Gallery offers a wide range of community-focused exhibitions, education programs and events. It cares for and showcases a collection of more than 2000 artworks – from early colonial landscapes and indigenous artifacts to contemporary Australian art.

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