Grainger Museum

Grainger Museum

The Grainger Museum-the only purpose-built autobiographical museum in Australia-is home to a wonderful collection of art, photographs, costumes, music scores and instruments acquired by Percy Grainger, an icon of twentieth century Australian musical culture.

The Grainger Museum is undergoing a bold re-envisioning, with the development of a new programming and management strategy, which upholds a reimagining of the activations of the Museum and its collections and placing students at the heart of all Museum activity.

The Grainger Museum is open to the public following a period of major works to preserve the historic building and upgrade its facilities.

Visitors can once again tour the rich and extensive collection that documents the life and times and interests of the remarkable Percy Grainger. The museum's curators have put together a compelling new suite of exhibits that promise to fascinate and intrigue.

Percy Grainger (1882-1961) was an internationally renowned Australian-American composer and pianist.

Art Works
The art collection comprises oil paintings, prints, works-on-paper and sculpture, and includes works by:
Rupert Bunny, Tom Roberts, Jacques-Emile Blanche, Augustus John, Jelka Delius, A.E. Aldis, Ella Grainger, Fredrick Leverton Harris, Ernest Thesiger, John Passmore, Helen Lempriere, Norma Bull, Bess Norris Tait, Noel Counihan, Norman Lindsay, Mortimer Menpes, Kaare Nygaard, F. Derwent Wood.

Rose Grainger Costume Collection
Percy Grainger preserved most of his mother's extensive wardrobe following her death in 1922. This significant collection, which includes gowns by Chanel and Worth, provides insight into fashion trends of the upper-middle class during the Edwardian era.

The costume collection also includes Percy Grainger's unique towelling clothing designs, his military uniforms, childhood clothes, formal wear, items of Ella Grainger's wardrobe as well as examples of clothes belonging to the composers Cyril Scott, Balfour Gardiner and Roger Quilter.

Decorative Arts and Furniture
Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic Period designs are prominent within the decorative arts collection which includes copper utensils, vessels and lamps made by the New York metal smiths, Jos Heinrichs and silverware by Lebolt from Chicago.

Porcelain and ceramics in the collection include items by Meissen, Royal Copenhagen, Royal Doulton, Willow Pattern (various makers), Japanese porcelain (Meiji period), Mamluk and Ottoman pottery and painted tiles by Ella Grainger.

Furniture dates from the mid 17th century to late 19th century and is predominantly of British origin. Of particular note are chairs believed to have been designed by Arts and Crafts designer Ernest Gimson and a vernacular oak kitchen chair from the mid-17th century. Grainger also collected a writing desk belonging to Edvard Grieg and a document box originally belonging to Franz Liszt.

Ethnographic Collection
Grainger began collecting artefacts from diverse ethnic groups during his concert tours before World War One. His collection of ethographica grew to include costumes, masks, headgear, footwear, adornments, utensils and weapons. During his tour in 1908-09 he became interested in weaving jewellery and accoutrements from glass beads, and also began an extensive collection of bead artefacts that included items from Melanesia, Polynesia, North America and South Africa.

Musical Instruments
There are 250 instruments in the collection.
Upright pianos, square pianos, grand pianos, harmoniums, Dulcitone, Duoart reproducing piano
Tuned Percussion
Staff bells, steel marimba, wooden marimbas, xylophones, tuned glasses ('glassophone'), mallets
Harp, harp guitar, guitars, ukuleles, viol, violin
Clarinets, oboes, flute, fife, slide whistles, sarrusophones, saxophone, trombones
Non-Western Instruments
Hardanger fiddle, didjeridoo, clapping sticks, auto-zither, ban hu, gong, yueh ch'in (moon guitar), san hsien, yang chin, rabb, drums, kerar, sansa, maracas
Accordion, concertina, Theremin

Hirschfeld-Mack Collection
Experimental wooden wind and string instruments made and designed by Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Weimar Bauhaus trained artist and teacher
Percy Grainger's Experimental Free Music Machines ('Tone-Tools')
Butterfly Piano (prepared child's piano), Reed-Box Tone-Tool, 'Kangaroo-Pouch' Tone-Tool, prepared piano roll for Grainger's composition Sketches for Sea Song

15,000 images illustrate most years of Grainger's life and his social milieu. He also documented his practice of flagellism and collected commercially produced erotic photographs during the 1920s and 1930s.
The collection includes works by Arnold Genthe, H. Walter Barnett, Adolph de Meyer, Gertrude Kasebier, Mina Moore, May Moore, Jean De Strelecki.

'Lust Branch' Collection
The collection referred to by Grainger as his 'Lust Branch' comprises pornography, whips and clothing, and protective devices used by Grainger and his lovers during sexual activities. Grainger also included news clippings, photographic documentation and essays investigating and discussing his sexual expression.

Grainger Museum Archive
The Grainger Museum archive contains approximately 50,000 items of correspondence. Grainger preserved extensive correspondence between himself and the following:
Edvard Grieg, Fredrick Delius, Cyril Scott, Balfour Gardiner; Roger Quilter; Dom Anselm Hughes, Arnold Dolmetsch, Herman and Alfhild Sandby, Amy Black, Henry Cowell, Lewis Slavit, Ernest Thesiger, Adolph de Meyer, Margot Harrison, Karen Holten, Elsie Bristow.

The archive also holds the Ella Grainger collection of correspondence, and letters collected by Rose Grainger.

Making the Museum

Making the Museum tells the story of the evolution of the Grainger Museum, from origin to contemporary incarnation through objects.

The idea for an autobiographical museum began to evolve in Grainger's mind in the early 1920s, shortly after the death of his beloved mother Rose, and completed in 1938. Making the Museum presents correspondence between Grainger and principal architect and designer of the Grainger Museum John Gawler, alongside early architectural drawings and photographs from construction. As well as presenting an architectural history of the Museum, this exhibition explores Grainger's philosophies of collecting, and his own aims for his extensive collection and archive.

Grainger saved hundreds of items of material culture from his daily life for the Museum, of which Making the Museum highlights a small but eclectic selection. On display from the vast Grainger Museum collection include items such as parcels of hair, portraits, spectacles, calling cards, travel cases and more; presenting a rich tapestry of objects which offer the visitor a unique, comprehensive and intimate picture of the private and public life of the Graingers.

Making the Museum is part of the ongoing display of our permanent collection, and is open Sunday to Friday, 12 - 4 PM. Entry is free.

Grainger Museum
Gate 13, Royal Parade
Parkville, Melbourne

Public transport from the city
Catch the no. 19 tram along Elizabeth Street/Royal Parade and alight at stop 11.

❊ What's On ❊

Grainger Museum: Grainger Amplified

❊ Address ❊

 ⊜  Gate 13, Royal Parade Parkville  View Map
 ✆ Telephone: +61 3 8344 5270
Gate 13, Royal ParadeParkvilleVictoria+61 3 8344 5270

❊ Web Links ❊

Grainger Museum 

❊ Also See.. ❊

Percy Grainger

Disclaimer: Check with the venue (web links) before making plans, travelling or buying tickets.

Accessibility: Contact the venue for accessibility information.

Update Page

Grainger Museum