RMIT’s art collection has come out of the shadows, offices and walls around the university to reveal more than 1000 artworks in a searchable data base for students and researchers to explore.
Martin Bean, CBE, Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT University, who recently launched the RMIT art collection online at RMIT Gallery, said that the resource was significant because it facilitated wide general access to the dispersed collection.
“The role of universities is in enriching cultural life as well as education, and being able to access the RMIT art collection online provides an immersive experience combining both technology and education,” he said.
“It is one thing for universities to own art, and another to share it.”
For more than 125 years, the RMIT University art collection has served as both a repository for education and research, and as a source of inspiration. Its purpose is to tell the history of the University through the creative output of its staff and alumni, and to reflect RMIT’s core values of innovation, creativity, sustainability and social engagement.
The RMIT art collection includes fine art, photography, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, new media and a ground-breaking sonic arts collection.
It provides a considerable overview of Australian art history and includes some of the most highly-regarded and successful artists that both the country and the University have produced. Works from the collection are regularly loaned for exhibition to other institutions, both within Australia and internationally.
Professionally cataloguing the entire collection has taken four intensive years, starting with partial paper records to a full accounting of all the fine art works that the university holds, in keeping with international best practice.
The online database has been meticulously annotated and researched, and provides a comprehensive global referencing system that is not only a natural progression for a university of technology, it will allow researchers access to information and history of individual artworks.
Work was undertaken by Jon Buckingham, RMIT Collections Coordinator, under the direction of Suzanne Davies, RMIT Gallery Director and Chair, RMIT University Art Collection Committee.
This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of primary sources and research material to be generated around the collection.
Ms Davies said that the collection’s intuitive website had already been put to use as a teaching tool, with Master of Art students from the School of Art using it to curate a virtual exhibition for their final assessment in the Curating Contemporary Art program taught through RMIT Gallery.
“It is anticipated we will have a wide range of responses given that students now have access to a diverse range of catalogued items that provides a considerable overview of Australian and international art history,” she said.