PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5935

OPENING OF AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL GALLERY

Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/10/1982

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 5935

EMBARGO: 9
FOR MEDIA TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12 1982
OPENING OF AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL GALLERY
It seems only a short while, Your Majesty, since you were
here with us opening the High Court, the companion building
of this National Gallery. I hope you will take pleasure in
what you will find and see here.
I would like to thank the Council of the Gallery, its
present and its former Chairmanfor the work they have
done preparing for this day.
It was the Government of Sir Robert Menzies, in 1965, that
made the decision to establish a national gallery and
significant purchasing of works of art for this occasion
began in 1969 when substantial funds were first set aside
to acquire a national collection.
This is a collection now of very considerable value.
Sir Darryl Lindsay and Sir William Dargie were particularly
important in making it possible to build up a first-class
national collection. I would like to pay a special tribute
to James Mollison, present Director of the Gallery who has
devoted 13 years of his life to this moment.
I was able to have a quick preview of the collection not
long ago. I believe he should be complimented on the way
the collection has been put together and prepared for
public presentation. The acquisitions of this Gallery will
enable visitors to see major significant works of art of
all the major important periodsJ from nearly every
. significant school and from every continent.
Australia is represented in all those periods. That in
a very real way will allow us to see ourselves, to judge
ourselves against the perspective of the background of
the wider world. My sister reminds me on those rare occasions
when we meet, that art is truly international and for its
purpose national boundaries do not really exist. The way
this collection has been put together demonstrates that
that is so. ./ 2

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Turning to the building itself, I think everyone will
agree that its entrance is imposing. Some may judge that
from certain angles, it is not the most beautiful building
in the world, but when the trees already planted around it
grow, the lines of the concrete will soften.
It also needs to be understood that this Gallery has been
designed and built for a particular purpose. It has been
designed to enable works of art many of which have a
degree of fragility to be housed in special conditions.
It has been designed to allow works of art to be stored,
exhibited and protected in an environment that will enable
them to be seen by all Australians, and by overseas visitors,
for generations to come.
I would also like to make the point, Your Majesty, that
this building has been designed so that disabled people
in wheelchairs are able to enjoy the building and to share
the value of this collection with other Australians. Further
measures are being taken to improve still further the
facilities for the disabled.
I believe that the architects should be complimented that
the designers, the builders and everyone who has played a
part in the creation of this Gallery should be complimented
for what they have achieved. This is a young gallery, but
it is undoubtedly going to become one of the great galleries
in the world.
It would be invidious for me to mention particular artists
but I am going to make one exception. I thinkwe all greatly
regret that Fred Williams is not with us today. For 10 years
he had been a member of the National Gallery Council.
Fred Williams was one of the few Australians to have exhibited
in the Museum of Modern Art in New York indeed, he had a
solo exhibition there and he exhibited in most of the
world's major art centres, including a further solo exhibition
in Paris. That he died a few months before this opening is
a matter of great regret, but it is a great pleasure to have
here his wife and three daughters.
I have been asked by the Gallery Council to announce tonight
that three galleries are to be named after Australian
artists in recognitionof their outstanding service to the
Gallery. One is to be named after Fred Williams, one after
Sir William Dargie, and one after Sir Darryl Lindsay.
Your Majesty, Australia is now starting to cast her eyes ahead
to 1988 when the Australian Bicentennial is to be celebrated.
Much planning is going into the events of that year. This
Gallery will then be 5 years old. Its activities will be an
important part and it will obviously have a significant role
to play in celebrating the Bicentennial., / 2

t 3
There is a continuing need for the national collection to
be further enhanced. The Gallery Council is now charged
with the responsibility of securing corporate and individual
donations from all sections of the community to add to the
collection. I don't know if they have got a collector around
the corner, but I am sure arrangements could be made.
The Government, for its part, is announcing a $ 27 million
contribution to the Gallery purchases over the next 5 years
to be known as the Bicentennial Collection. I hope the
corporate and private sectors will follow our example to
enable this great Gallery to build upon its present
achievements.

Transcript 5935