Developer Donates $26m Art Collection to Fund Melbourne Gallery

A new contemporary art museum, at the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts, will open next month thanks to the donation of Melbourne property developer Michael Buxton.

Buxton donated his private collection, valued at more than $10 million, and an additional $16 million to fund the construction and operation of the museum for the next two decades.

The gallery, “Buxton Contemporary”, will feature more than 300 works by 53 of the country’s most significant Australian artists, including Howard Arkley, Ricky Swallow, Tracey Moffat, Emily Floyd and Bill Henson.


In 2014, Buxton donated the entire collection to the university for educational purposes.

The gallery, which started construction in 2016, will be designed by Melbourne architecture firm Fender Katsalidis.

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Buxton said he and his family had always dreamt the Buxton Collection would serve as an educational resource to help foster an appreciation for contemporary Australian art.

“By donating this magnificent collection to the University of Melbourne we are ensuring its longevity as a dynamic collection which will evolve and grow, educating future generations of students and serving as a resource for all Australians aspiring to understand or collect challenging contemporary art.”

– Michael Buxton

The gallery, which started construction in 2016, will also be a reflection of Mr Buxton’s passion as its inception and creation was a direct result of his funding and support.

The purpose-built gallery will be a 2,200-square-metre, two-storey structure with five galleries and a teaching space.

A feature of the building will be the largest digital screen of its type in Australia, to be used to showcase digital works and for use during Melbourne arts events.

Fender Katsalidis, the architect’s responsible for designing the gallery, also designed the Wave House, Buxton’s private residence. The Wave house was completed in 2002.

The museum will operate in conjunction with the University’s Ian Potter Museum of Art.

“Thanks to a wonderful partnership with Michael Buxton, this University will give the people of Melbourne unprecedented access to Australia’s finest contemporary art,” University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis said.

“We believe the impact of this gift will be profound, enhancing the Southbank precinct’s position as the heart of Melbourne’s cultural life.”

Buxton Contemporary will open to the public from 9 March.

*Editors' note – an earlier version of this article published an incorrect photograph of Michael Buxton. The updated image depicts property developer Michael Buxton, not RMIT planning professor Michael Buxton.

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