31 August 2016
The Abbotsford Convent's ageing Magdalen Laundries are set to become significant arts and cultural spaces, following newly-announced funding from the State Government.
The State Government will contribute $2.7 million towards transforming the Laundries, granted from the $30 million Living Heritage fund.
Australia's largest multi-arts precinct, Abbotsford Convent comprises 11 historical buildings, with the Laundries one of the last remaining buildings to be redeveloped for arts, cultural and learning purposes.
The Convent's Magdalen Laundries are noted for their architectural and historic significance. Built in the 1880s by the original owners of the Convent, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the Laundries were staffed by women who lived onsite at the Magdalen Asylum. The Laundries were a source of income for the Sisters, and operated commercially up until 1975. They are acknowledged now as the site of suffering for the women who were forced to work there. Once refurbished, these cavernous spaces will generate new income for the Convent and will also provide a unique multi-use arts space in Melbourne.
Following the new funding announcement, the Convent's plans for the Laundries will include stakeholder consultation and a public fundraising campaign to generate additional funds required to purchase infrastructure for the spaces.
The Abbotsford Convent offers a year-round program of community and creative events.