Tuesday, 5 August 2014


The Grainger Museum is a repository of items documenting the life, career and music of the composer, folklorist, educator and pianist Percy Grainger (b. Melbourne, 1882; d. White Plains, New York, 1961), located in the grounds of the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

In the early 1920s, Grainger began to develop an idea for an autobiographical museum so that "all very intimate letters or notes should be deposited in an Australian Grainger Museum, preferably in birth-town Melbourne". Grainger was a devotee of words derived from Anglo-Saxon, and used the word 'hoard-house' for museums generally, but agreed to the word 'museum' in this case. The Museum was designed by the University's staff architect John Gawler of the local firm Gawler and Drummond, with input and funding from Grainger himself. It was built between 1935 and 1939 on land adjacent to the Conservatorium, provided for the purpose by the University of Melbourne, and officially opened in December 1938.

It is among a relatively small number of autobiographical museums in the world. The Grainger Museum was closed in 2003 for seven years, for restoration and conservation work, after waterproofing issues were detected. It reopened on 17 October 2010. Among displays of original manuscripts and published scores, musical instruments, field recordings, artworks, photographs, books and personal items, are Grainger’s whips and other items relating to his sado-masochism (which Grainger called the "Lust Branch"), the contents of his bedside cabinet, and a gallery devoted to his mother’s suicide.

There are also sound-making devices Grainger used to make his innovative and experimental "Free music". The substantial archival collection includes some 50,000 items of correspondence (with people such as Edvard Grieg, Frederick Delius, Cyril Scott, Richard Wagner and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) and the collection generally comprises over 100,000 items in total, only a small proportion of which are on display. The remainder of the collection is accessible for research by prior arrangement. The Grainger Museum is open Tuesday to Fridays, and Sundays, from 1 pm to 4:30 pm.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme.


  1. Even though the Grainger Museum was built before WW2 broke out and even though it was given a great site next to the Conservatorium, I don't remember it ever being mentioned during my longgg years at Melbourne Uni. Doesn't make sense. We have a world class collection in our own city and yet it isn't advertised at all :(

  2. The daffodils add a nice brightness to this winter scene Nick. An autobiographical museum is an interesting concept. I am sure that he did great work but it seems a bit self indulgent to dedicate a museum after yourself.


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