A month ago I had to go the University of Melbourne, my alma mater, and as always found many changes, especially so as the last time I had been there was about 5 years ago. Nevertheless, some things had not changed and one of them was the art around the campus. The gallery of the University is the Ian Potter Museum of Art. It is worth visiting both for its collection and its own architecture. Designed by one of Melbourne's most interesting contemporary architects, Nonda Katsalidis, it incorporates parts of older university buildings such as the Napier Waller Art Deco stained glass window from the old Wilson Hall (which burnt down).
The gallery is a bequest to the university from the businessman, Sir Ian Potter. The very distinctive façade has this striking sculptural mural, where classical art burgeons forth from the interior of the museum! A tribute to the excellent collection of Greek pottery housed n the museum, perhaps. There are some very good 19th century paintings and many contemporary art pieces. Temporary exhibitions make the bulk of the exhibited material.
Whenever I visited the Baillieu Library as a student I could not help but notice the monumental sculptural group (picture below) just outside, on the lawn adjacent to the library. The bronze sculpture known as “Charity Being Kind to the Poor”, was originally the “crowning piece” of the massive entrance portico of the Equitable Life Assurance Society headquarters in Collins Street. The building was demolished in the late 1950s and the owners presented the sculpture to the University. Created by architect Edward W Raht and sculptor Victor Tilgner at the Imperial Art Foundry in Vienna in about 1893, the substantially-scaled Charity, sheltering a huddled family, is a clear statement on the advantages of buying life insurance. Originally situated at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning’s Mount Martha site, it was relocated to its present location in 1981.
The University as a place of intellectual pursuits, a temple of learning, a refuge for the arts and sciences, teaching and research, ensures that art will always have a place in its environs.