• arts & culture

20 August 2018

On this day in 1968, the National Gallery of Victoria opened the doors on its new St Kilda Road building, designed by Sir Roy Grounds. Now known as NGV International, Grounds’s bluestone building is widely regarded as a cultural landmark of Melbourne.

NGV International, Exterior by night. 2006.

NGV International, Exterior by night. 2006.

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of this milestone, the NGV will present a series of exhibits that pay tribute to those who played a role in the creation of the building, including Grounds, the interior designers Grant and Mary Featherston, and artist Leonard French, who created the gallery’s iconic and much-loved glass ceiling.

Highlights of the displays include Grounds’s never-before-seen original architectural plans and sketches, as well as rarely seen photographs and footage relating to the building’s construction. The display will offer audiences an insight into Grounds’s design, which fused historical architectural elements, including Italian palazzo and oriental design principals, with a striking modern sensibility that created a dramatic new gallery for all Victorians.

The interior of the gallery will also be celebrated through a focussed display spotlighting the work of interior designers Grant and Mary Featherston, who were enlisted to fit out the entire gallery. The display will include a recreation of a curator’s original 1968 office, including desk, chair and tables and other fittings designed by the Featherston’s exclusively for NGV, revealing their renowned and pragmatic approach to designing modular furniture.

A further display will explore the creation of Leonard French’s cut-glass ceiling for the NGV’s Great Hall through TV interviews, exquisite samples of the coloured glass and magazine covers featuring the design. Emulating the kaleidoscopic effect of light filtering through trees and comprising approximately 10,000 pieces of glass, French’s fifty metre-spanning design remains the largest cut-glass ceiling in the world.

A small selection of fashion images by fashion photographer Henry Talbot will also be on display. Talbot, like many fashion photographers in the 1960s and 1970s, used the new National Gallery of Victoria building as a setting for a fashion shoot, employing the distinctive bluestone walls as a dramatic backdrop.

Exhibits celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of NGV International will open 11 August 2018 and will be on display until November 2018. Entry is FREE.

Visit NGV for details