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Editions

No art gallery for Docklands

05 Mar 2015

No art gallery for Docklands Image

Docklands has missed out on the chance to have its own contemporary Australian art gallery after developer Michael Buxton donated his 300-strong collection to the University of Melbourne.

Originally MAB Corporation planned to build the gallery on Harbour Esplanade, near the corner of NewQuay Promenade, where it has development rights.

But in December, Mr Buxton announced a $26 million donation to the university’s Southbank campus, which is home to the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA).

The donation includes more than 300 works by 53 of Australia’s most significant art ists including Howard Arkley, Ricky Swallow, Tracey Moffat, Emily Floyd and Bill Henson.

The donation also includes funds for the construction of a new purpose-built museum, to be known as the Michael Buxton Centre of Contemporary Art (MBCOCA).

Mr Buxton said he’d been planning a permanent home for the collection since 1995 and that the decision not to build the museum in Docklands was based on ensuring the future of the collection.

“The reason we decided to go with Melbourne University rather than Docklands is really longevity,” Mr Buxton said.

“The idea we looked at for Docklands was a fantastic site and beautiful building but my concern was that, while it would be fine to finance it throughout my lifetime, it would struggle to survive another generation.”

“With Melbourne University we’ll have an ongoing relationship but won’t have the financial obligation after 20 years.”

Mr Buxton said the decision was also prompted by a desire for the collection to serve as an education resource to help foster an appreciation for contemporary Australian art.

“By donating this magnificent collection to the University of Melbourne we are ensuring its longevity as a dynamic collection which will evolve and grow, educating future generations of students and serving as a resource for all Australians aspiring to understand or collect challenging contemporary art,” he said.

University of Melbourne vice chancellor Glyn Davis said, thanks to the partnership with Michael Buxton, Melburnians would be given unprecedented access to Australia’s finest contemporary art.

“We believe the impact of this will be profound, enhancing the Southbank precinct’s position as the heart of Melbourne’s cultural life.”

MAB Corporation plans for the Docklands site where the art gallery was originally going to be located are currently unknown, with Mr Buxton saying the plans were “a work in progress”.

Docklands News understands MAB Corporation has development rights over the site until 2018, after which time if work hasn’t commenced, the site will be returned to Places Victoria.

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