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About us

Murdoch University Art Collection was established in 1974 through donations of art. Inspired by this act of generosity the University purchased a drawing of Sir Walter Murdoch by Louis Kahan in the same year. In 1975, art collector and philanthropist Dr Harold Schenberg donated eleven significant artworks to the Collection including works by Ian Fairweather, Leonard French, Roland Wakelin and Margaret Woodward. During this time the University’s Senate established an Art Acquisitions Committee that was responsible for advancing the Collection. Through the 1970s and 1980s the Committee developed the Collection with donations and purchases of artworks by distinguished artists including Lloyd Rees, Jacob Epstein, Charles Blackman, Robert Juniper, Sidney Nolan and Tjapaltjarri Tim Leura.


Born 1891, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died 1974, Brisbane, Australia
Mother and Child
Oil and tempera on board
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Dr Harold Schenberg, 1975

In 1990 the Committee established a general collection policy and recognised the need for professional administration to manage the needs of an ever-expanding collection. As a result Murdoch University’s first official Art Curator was employed on a part-time basis in 1995. By 1997 the Art Acquisitions Committee was disbanded and replaced with an Art Collection Board, featuring broader membership and external representation. The Art Board continues to monitor the management of the Collection as well as reporting to and providing advice to the Vice Chancellor. In 1999 the Art Board implemented an acquisitions policy, which brought Murdoch University Art Collection’s policy in line with Council of Australian University Museum and Collections guidelines. Steered by this policy and curatorial advice, the Art Board aims to develop and maintain a distinctive Collection of the highest calibre. During this time the Collection acquired donated and purchased artworks by Sidney Nolan, Elwyn Lynn, Sali Herman, Brian McKay, Miriam Stannage, Tony Jones, Harald Vike, Stuart Elliot, Hans Arkeveld, John Tarry, Julie Dowling, Nakarra Queenie McKenzie and Jarinyanu David Downs.

By 2002 a major review of the Collection was commissioned and as a result, the first full-time curator was employed in 2004 along with increased funding, resources and a greater position in the University’s priorities. This became a significant turning point in the ongoing development of the Collection as it allowed opportunity for increased expansion with major artwork acquisitions, public art commissions and successful fundraising campaigns for the purchase of artworks. In 2006 the first major review of the Collection’s acquisition strategy was undertaken to explore opportunities for future focus and development. As a result, additional focused areas such as abstraction, photo media and Indigenous art from urban and remote communities were introduced. In the last decade, noteworthy acquisitions include artworks by Robert Owen, Brian Blanchflower, Freddie Timms, Trevor Vickers, Janet Laurence, Timothy Cook, Lena Nyadbi, Rosemary Laing, Fiona Foley, Dadang Christanto, Petrina Hicks, Brent Harris, Brook Andrew, John Nixon, Danie Mellor, Joanna Lamb, James Angus, Trevor Richards, Gemma Smith, Brad Rimmer, Wakartu Cory Surprise, Alex Spremberg, Christopher Pease, Rodney Glick, Tony Albert, Abdul Abdullah and Helen Smith.

To date the Collection holds almost 2000 artworks, which are showcased in locations throughout the University’s Murdoch, Rockingham and Peel campuses. Physically woven throughout these campuses, the Collection is readily accessible and can be interacted with on a day-to-day basis. It enhances the environment and contributes to shaping Murdoch University’s cultural identity, whilst stimulating minds and contributing to the academic learning experience.