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Southbank gets Buxton’s collection

08 Mar 2018

Southbank gets Buxton’s collection Image

By Meg Hill

The arts precinct’s newest museum holds one of Australia’s most significant contemporary art collections, with the Michael Buxton Collection given a public home this month in the Victorian College of the Arts.

The museum, Buxton Contemporary, is housed in heritage buildings revamped by Melbourne-based architects Fender Katsalidis on the corner of Dodds St and Southbank Boulevard.

Opening on March 9, the space covers over 2200 sqm, featuring a teaching space and five galleries displaying the work of over 58 contemporary artists.

The overhead of the entrance will display digital and video works on one of largest digital screens of its type in Australia, and the only animated screen of its kind in Victoria.

Buxton Contemporary was conceived with a donation of over $26 million from Melbourne property developer and art collector Michael Buxton.

Michael Buxton donated the building and operational support funds, but also the collection itself, to Melbourne University’s alumni engagement campaign, Believe, back in 2014.

The contribution is the biggest ever donation to the campaign.

But, the story of the Buxton Collection goes back much further than that. It was established in 1995, but is representative of work from the 1980s onwards.

Now, with the opening of the gallery, Mr Buxton relinquishes much of his control, handing it over to the inaugural director Ryan Johnston.

Mr Johnson’s responsibility involves creating a balance between Mr Buxton’s preference for the collection to continue to refresh and stay truly contemporary, and the fact that the collection tracks the evolution of some of Australia’s leading artists.

“Michael and Janet Buxton’s remarkable gift presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to engage and better understand contemporary artistic practices,” Mr Johnson said.

“Buxton Contemporary will provide a dynamic forum through which the university will engage local, national and international communities with the art, culture and issues of today.”

The museum’s first exhibition, The Shape of Things to Come, features more than 20 artists from the collection and explores the various roles and agencies of the artist through culture, society and politics.

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