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History of Bendigo Art Gallery

James Edwin Meadows, Sandhurst from Camp Hill, 1886, oil on canvas, Bendigo Art Gallery

Bendigo Art Gallery was founded in 1887 - Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Year. In the late 1880s, distinguished Bendigo architect WC Valhand supervised the conversion of the former Bendigo Volunteer Rifle’s orderly room in View Street into a new home for the Gallery’s collection.

The revamped Gallery opened in 1890, and occupied the building now called Bolton Court. Drury Court was added in 1897, then Abbott Court just eight years later following a plan devised by another leading local architect, William Beebe. These rooms were designed in the grand European tradition (notably the Tate Gallery, London) with polished wood floors, ornate plaster arches and cornices, and diffused natural sky-lighting through rooftop lantern towers.

The Gallery’s original polychrome red and white Victorian brick facade onto View Street, and its Victorian and Edwardian galleries, remained largely intact until 1962, when a modern cream-brick entrance to View Street was added, which included new offices and three new galleries: the Scott and Sonnenberg Courts and the BS Andrew Gallery.

Bendigo Art Gallery has completed an extensive building and renovation program which has seen the addition of a new contemporary wing, storage areas, the restoration of the period rooms, construction of a new entrance, a new gallery shop, improved wheelchair access and a gallery cafe.

 

Further information about the architectural developments of the Bendigo Art Gallery (pdf, 78KB)

View Street entrance c1890, (photographer unknown), Bendigo Art Gallery archives