A local treasure for over 50 years, Hamilton Art Gallery presents a range of exhibitions, programs and events that stimulate understanding, awareness and enjoyment of the visual arts. The Gallery, which is managed by the Shire of Southern Grampians, is the most significant public cultural facility in the Shire and forms an important part of the range of tourism experiences available in the Greater Hamilton region.
Divided into six exhibition spaces over two levels, the Gallery presents a vast range of touring, temporary and permanent exhibitions each year. With a collection of over 8000 items Hamilton Art Gallery's collection is extensive, with an emphasis in fine and decorative art with strengths in silver, glass and porcelain. Asian metalwork and ceramics also make up a significant section of the collection.
The Gallery holds a collection of European and Australian paintings, prints and decorative arts from the 1700s to the present, antiquities and Asian ceramics and metalwork. Highlights include the Herbert and May Shaw Bequest consisting of 780 items of English and European silver, glass, porcelain, miniatures and Asian ceramics, and a large collection of works by the eighteenth-century English artist Paul Sandby R.A.
The Herbert and May Shaw bequest
Hamilton Art Gallery was established in 1961 following a large bequest of an outstanding collection of art works left to the City of Hamilton by Herbert Shaw (1882-1957). This generous bequest of 781 items reflects the collecting interests of Herbert and his wife May who lived at 'Kiama', a homestead near Hamilton. The Shaw Bequest consisted mainly of 18th and 19th century English and European decorative arts and was the beginnings of Hamilton's collection.
Paul Sandby collection
In 1972, the State Government of Victoria purchased for the Gallery a large collection of works by Paul Sandby (1731-1809). A first floor was then added to accommodate a rapidly growing collection. The Sandby collection of 29 watercolours and 74 etchings was purchased from C.C.L. Gaussen and Lady Mary Gaussen of 'Gringegalgona', a homestead near Hamilton. Sandby was a foundation member of the Royal Academy and the earliest English artist of note to exploit the media of watercolour and gouache. He was also a fine etcher, a great innovator and the art of aquatint printing was developed in England largely as a result of his early enthusiasm for this technique. Still in their original frames they are on permanent display in the Gaussen Gallery, a recreation of an English drawing room.