MELBOURNE.- Premier John Brumby today launched the National Gallery of Victoria’s fundraising appeal, Masterpieces for Melbourne, which seeks to raise $150 million by the gallery’s 150th birthday in 2011.
The Premier was joined by NGV President of the Council of Trustees Allan Myers, donors, as well as Geoffrey Rush, Fred Schepisi and Bill Henson to launch the campaign and call on support from the community.
“The NGV has for nearly 150 years provided inspiration, education and enjoyment for our community. Our state gallery has become a great tourist attraction and is high on the agenda of visitors who come to Victoria from interstate and overseas,” Mr Brumby said.
“Since the opening of the Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square and the redevelopment of the NGV, more than 10 million visitors have passed through the doors. This fundraising campaign is about continuing that momentum,” he said.
Mr Brumby said $46 million had already been donated to the campaign including the largest cash donation ever given to an Australian art museum by individuals, from Loti and Victor Smorgon.
“The Loti and Victor Smorgon Fund will provide over 10% of the overall goal of $150 million and will be dedicated to the purchase of 20th century and contemporary art,” he said.
Minister for the Arts, Lynne Kosky, said this is a great opportunity for all Victorians to get behind their gallery.
“The NGV is one of Victoria’s most loved cultural institutions. Victorians of all ages and from across the State find inspiration in its great collections. Many have a life long passion that began with their first visit as a child with their family or an educational visit with their school.”
“Support for the NGV is an investment in future generations of Victorians.”
President of the NGV Council of Trustees, Allan Myers, said that throughout its history, the NGV had relied on private philanthropy to build its collection.
“The NGV has a great record of philanthropic support. Most notably, for the past century the bequest of Alfred Felton has enabled us to purchase many of the great masterpieces that hang in the NGV today,” Mr Myers said.
“Because of huge increases in the Australian and International art markets, the buying power of the Felton Bequest is much diminished and we need renewed support.”
NGV Director, Dr Gerard Vaughan said the gallery was seeking the support of the community in order to guarantee the future development of the State collection.
“In past years, the NGV has had the buying power to create one of the world’s great public art collections, which is the pride of all Victorians. We cannot allow that collection to languish.
“We need to focus on three key areas for acquisitions: continuing to fill gaps in our historical collections; the art of our region – the Asia Pacific and Australian indigenous art; and great contemporary art from around the world.
“It is only through an ongoing partnership between government and private donors that we can ensure the continued success of this great gallery,” said Dr Vaughan.
Other major donations include $9 million from Allan Myers and his wife Maria as well as generous support from Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who was one of the very first to support the campaign.
Loti Smorgon said she had a great passion for contemporary art and was pleased to support the NGV’s campaign.
“I’d like to be part of ensuring the NGV can continue to buy great works of art for future generations to love, learn from, and enjoy,” she said.
Mr Brumby paid tribute to the generosity of the benefactors already involved in the campaign.
“I would like to offer my congratulations and thanks on behalf of the people of Victoria for their very generous donations.”