Funding brings cultural treasure to Melbourne art fans

Date published:

A highly significant drawing by one of the most celebrated First Nations Australian artists of the 19th Century will be making its way to the University of Melbourne with help from the National Cultural Heritage Account.

A $30,000 grant has enabled the University to acquire Before the fight – a war dance by Tommy McRae (c. 1830-1901) as an important addition to its collection of more than 18,000 works. McRae’s drawing will be included in the exhibition marking the relaunch of Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne in early 2025.

A Kwat Kwat man from north-eastern Victoria, McRae was one of the first First Nations artists of renown in Australia to have his work published and to be known by name and celebrated in his lifetime. The work depicts warriors preparing to engage in a form of dispute resolution, providing an intimate window into the lives of First People over a century ago and celebrating their practising of culture.

The National Cultural Heritage Account provides up to $500,000 each year to assist Australian cultural organisations, such as public galleries, libraries, archives and museums, to acquire significant cultural heritage objects they could not otherwise afford.

In this way, the Account increases public access to important Australian artworks which tell the story of our history, cultures and identity to preserve them for future generations.

Two recent acquisitions made possible by the account include a Second World War portrait by Australian artist Weaver Hawkins’ of farmer Thomas Joyce, now on display at the Australian War Memorial, and the Yowah Moon Opal, now on display at Geoscience Australia.

To find out more about the Account and a full list of objects it has assisted eligible organisations to acquire, visit: National Cultural Heritage Account | Office for the Arts.

Media contact | (02) 6136 8112