I had always wanted to build a museum to house the collection, mostly so it could be used as a resource for people aspiring to understand or collect challenging contemporary art. We initially looked at the idea of building our own, but when I thought about the longevity of the collection and what partnering with an educational institution could offer, it was an easy decision.
The site earmarked for the new museum currently contains a number of heritage buildings that will remain as part of the new museum. Therefore, we have designed a building that maintains and compliments this history, while providing exceptional gallery spaces for the display of contemporary art.
The museum will be located on the corner of Southbank Boulevard and Dodds St, Southbank. We are in the heart of Melbourne’s art precinct, with neighbors including the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), The Melbourne Theatre Company, Margaret Lawrence Gallery and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA). We are set to open toward the end of 2017.
We hope the museum will continue to add to the diverse and rich cultural landscape of Australia, with a specific focus on education and supporting the current generation of contemporary visual artists.
As the arts sector faces more and more government cuts it is imperative for cultural philanthropy in Australia to increase in order for the cultural sector to survive. If my donation makes even one individual think about donating then it has been worthwhile.
I have always been passionate about art. I began collecting modernist works in the 1970s, but when I first began to meet and engage with the current generation of contemporary Australian artists I was amazed by the passion, drive and intelligence they brought to their practice. It was these conversations that led me to want to acquire their works, and in the process, support such a dynamic generation of artists.
The Michael Buxton Collection has strong acquisition guidelines. Key factors include only acquiring works from living artists, and only acquiring works from the primary market. This ensures that the artists directly benefit from the acquisition of their works. The collection also focuses on fewer artists in depth and across media, and seeks to reflect the scope of the current visual arts in Australia.
The collection has grown to include over 50 artists, and spans three or more generations of artists, encompassing a broad range of visual media, from painting, sculpture, photography and drawing, to ambitious installations. Artists include Mike Parr, Tracey Moffatt, Ricky Swallow, Patricia Piccinini, Marco Fusinato and Emily Floyd, to name but a few.
I have always purchased Australian art, but I also acquire international contemporary art. I have a collection in the USA with a friend that focuses solely on American artists, and have recently started to acquire works by artists from the Asia-Pacific region.
We are in the process of setting up the Board that will oversee the management of the new museum, however, it will be under the umbrella of the Ian Potter Museum of Art that is the University of Melbourne’s existing art museum.
The first six to twelve months will showcase the Michael Buxton Collection. Key highlights include the connections that can be made between different artists, across younger and more established generations, and its commitment to collecting challenging works such as its large-scale installations.
Yes, the number of private museums has risen substantially in the last few decades, and not just abroad. We are fortunate right here in Australia to have institutions like TarraWarra Museum of Art, Musuem of Old and New Art (MONA), and the Lyon Housemuseum. The decision to make a private collection public is different for each individual but consulting knowledgeable people across the sector has been key to our success. —[O]