More than 100 years ago, a group of Australian artists took over the National Museum of Australia in Melbourne, and built a museum of their own.
Now, the National Gallery of Australia, one of Australia’s most famous museums, is to be sold.
Photo: Supplied The National Gallery was built in 1901 by a group led by Australian artist and historian John Hughes, and is the oldest surviving Australian art museum.
Its main exhibition space, at the former Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, was built by the National Trust for Victoria.
The museum is located on the southern outskirts of the city.
The Australian artist who commissioned it, John Hughes (1872-1954), has long been remembered as the architect of the building, which was designed by architect Edward Griffiths.
In the mid-19th century, the artist’s work became one of the main inspirations for Australian artists and sculptors such as Robert Graves, John Russell and Augustus St John.
Mr Hughes died in 1964.
His museum will be demolished to make way for the construction of a new exhibition centre.
“The sale of the National Art Gallery is part of a concerted effort by the Australian Government to ensure that the nation’s heritage remains protected,” Mr Hughes said in a statement.
“While this is a great loss for Melbourne, the work of this outstanding artist will be carried on and continue to inspire generations to come.”
Mr Hughes’s death in 1964 led to the sale of most of the existing building to the Melbourne Museum of Fine Arts.
The former building was also demolished in the 1950s and the National Archives and Records Management Service is currently trying to save the remainder of the museum.
Photo and caption: “In the late 1800s, artist and architect John Hughes commissioned the building to be constructed.
The building was originally called the National Exhibition and Conference Centre, but it was later renamed the National Library.”
Photo: John Stavroche The National Library was also built in the early 1800s by a former art dealer who was known as the “man who made the most books”.
It is now the Victoria Archives and Archives Management Service building, one the largest collection of historical documents in the state.
“This great building has long stood as an iconic symbol of the Victorian period, and it has a rich history of Australian history and art,” the Victoria Public Library said in an official statement.
The National Gallery has been in the public domain for the past four decades, and was sold to the Victorian Museum of Art for $3.5 million.
It will remain in the Victoria Museum until 2020.
While the sale is yet to be approved, the museum’s website says the sale will be conducted through a private sale.
“The National Museum is a nationally recognised international authority for arts and culture, which continues to provide exhibitions, archives and archives services to the public,” the website said.
“It is a museum which celebrates Australian and Australian-originated art and culture.
It is also a significant cultural institution and is recognised as the world’s oldest public museum by the Guinness Book of World Records.”
While many of the other exhibits in the museum are on display, the majority of the collection will be preserved at the Victoria archives until 2020, and will not be removed from the National Arts and Culture Collection.
The sale is the latest blow to the city’s art and heritage, and comes after a wave of closures across the country in the wake of the Northern Territory’s carbon emissions target.
In the Northern Territories, artists and conservationists have been calling on the state government to take immediate action to halt the destruction of art and historical buildings.