The Art Gallery of Ballarat houses major collections covering the history of Australian art from the early colonial period to the present day.
The collection is presented in a series of rooms ranging in date from 1887 to current, enabling the works to be displayed in rooms appropriate to their era. The oldest part of the building, which was specially constructed as a purpose-built gallery between 1887 and 1890, conveys the opulence of the 1880s Boom era, while the most recent extension, with its clean lines and subtle use of natural light, enhances the display of the contemporary collection.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat has one of the most comprehensive collections of Australian paintings in the nation. The works featured here are just a small selection from a holding that extends from convict artists of Van Diemen's Land to the present day. Virtually every movement or trend that has come to the fore since the colonial era is represented.
The Gallery started actively collecting works of art in the late 1880s even before it had a building to call home. For the most part the early acquisitions were paintings and the majority of these were works by British artists, with a small number of paintings from Continental Europe.
This holding has been augmented substantially over time with occasional gifts and bequests and there was a final concerted attempt to acquire important British and French works in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s under the influence of Daryl Lindsay, the Creswick-born Director of the National Gallery of Victoria.
Rare Books Collection
The Art Gallery of Ballarat has a very fine holding of Rare Books - thanks largely to the benefactions of the Honourable Richard Crouch and Sir Allan and Lady Currie.
The Crouch donations include medieval manuscripts and early printed books while the Currie collection focusses on volumes which illustrate the European exploration and settlement of the South Pacific region - including Australia.