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 Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.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.

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The opening of Heide Museum of Modern Art and inaugural exhibition, The Ned Kelly Paintings 1946–47 by Sidney Nolan, with Sir Rupert Hamer (then Victorian Premier), Norman Lacy (Minister for the Arts), and Dr Norman Wettenhall (inaugral Heide Chairman of the Board), November 1981


Victorian Government buys Heide

Once a run-down dairy farm, Heide – the home of arts patrons John and Sunday Reed in the Melbourne suburb of Bulleen – became a focal point for progressive art and culture from the 1930s to the 70s, and a second home to many of Australia's great modernist artists. In August 1980, the Victorian Government purchased Heide from the Reeds – including its original farmhouse, a modern house the Reeds described as a 'gallery to be lived in', 15 acres of gardens and parklands and more than 100 works of art.


A board was appointed to run Heide as a public park and art gallery, and the inaugural director, Maudie Palmer, commenced in April 1981.

The Reeds lived to see their vision for Heide to become a public museum fulfilled. The Heide Museum of Modern Art was officially opened on 12 November 1981 by Sir Rupert Hamer, with an exhibition of Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly Paintings 1946-47. John and Sunday Reed died within weeks of each other in December that year.

Since then Heide Museum of Modern Art has presented more than 260 exhibitions, and has become one of Victoria's great cultural gems, a public gallery of national significance. In keeping with the Reeds' support of the artists of their time, Heide has always promoted the work of living artists, beginning in 1982 with the exhibition New Art/New Artists.

In 1992 work commenced on a new gallery wing, Heide III, which was expanded in 2006 as part of a major redevelopment funded by the Victorian Government and philanthropic supporters. Heide now houses the Albert & Barbara Tucker Gallery, the Sidney Myer Education Centre, a sculpture plaza, a café and magnificent gardens.

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