Flinders University Art Museum was formally established in 1978 to preserve, develop and exhibit the University’s contemporary and historical collections of art. First acquired in 1966 by the then discipline of Fine Arts as an academic resource for the study of art history, these collections now comprise more than 8000 works.
Initially, collecting focused on European graphic art with the aim of representing principle developments in western art history from the 15th century onwards. This remit expanded in the early 1970s when emphasis was given to contemporary Australian art, specifically conceptual works, and political prints and posters. A decade later, as the visual languages of Indigenous Australians were gaining recognition as an art form, collecting expanded further to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. This focus has since become the Art Museum’s primary strength.
Diverse and wide-ranging, these categories are complemented by smaller collections including indigenous works from Papua New Guinea, North America and Africa, as well as Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
The Art Museum collections have developed over the years through institutional grants and philanthropic gifts, and the generous support of many individuals. In particular, long-standing patrons Emeritus Professor JVS Megaw and the late Dr M Ruth Megaw have been instrumental in helping to build holdings, especially in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Significant donations have also been received from many private collectors, artists and long-standing supporters.
Today the Art Museum plays an active and dynamic role in the life of the University, fostering critical and creative engagements with visual art through research, academic and public education programs, residencies, exhibitions and publications. Using art to open conversations and inspire cross-disciplinary dialogue around social, cultural, scientific and political themes, these activities embrace diverse audiences and welcome innovative collaboration with local, regional and global partners.