Joan Ross  BBQ this Sunday, BYO (video still) 2011. Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Bett Gallery, Hobart and Michael Reid, Sydney.
Joan Ross BBQ this Sunday, BYO (video still) 2011.Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Bett Gallery, Hobart and Michael Reid, Sydney.
27 June 2016

Contemporary Australian art will be celebrated in an exhibition to mark the University of Queensland Art Museum’s 40th birthday in July.

UQ Art Museum Director and exhibition co-curator Dr Campbell Gray said the exhibition beyond the Tower: UQ Art Museum – 40 years and counting encompassed some 130 works of art from UQ’s collection of more than 3700 pieces.

“It underscores the rich and thought-provoking collection of artworks held by The University of Queensland,” he said.

The exhibition’s title alludes to the museum’s beginnings on the upper levels of UQ’s Forgan Smith Tower, before it moved to the repurposed James and Mary Emelia Mayne Centre – formerly Mayne Hall – in 2004.

Beyond the Tower celebrates our 40th anniversary through an account of the museum’s history,” Dr Gray said.

“Since our doors opened in 1976, we’ve been committed to critiquing current issues and contemporary art through our acquisition program, exhibitions and events.

“The exhibition highlights this central focus and reveals the diversity and vibrancy of the collection.”

Co-curator Samantha Littley said the exhibition was an opportunity to acknowledge the generosity of donors and to recognise how donated artworks had helped shape the collection.

“Purchasing decisions are driven by collecting policies, but donated artworks enter a collection more serendipitously, and viewers will see that in the way we have hung this show,” Ms Littley said.

“The central spaces feature artworks purchased around the time they were made, while a selection of artworks donated to the University occupy surrounding walls and alcoves in more eclectic arrangements, signifying the respective elements of design and chance inherent in these modes of acquisition.

Dr Gray said the generosity of donors extended beyond the collection and had influenced the expansion of the museum over the years.

“A donation from Chuck Feeney and The Atlantic Philanthropies enabled the University to convert Mayne Hall into the dynamic cultural space it is today, while financial contributions and bequests from individuals from a wide spectrum have extended our relevance and our reach,” he said.

“The University has also played a crucial role in our development. Its commitment to collecting significant works of contemporary art has been unwavering, as has its acknowledgement of the Art Museum’s valuable contribution to teaching and learning on campus.”

UQ’s incoming Chancellor, Mr Peter Varghese AO, will officially open beyond the Tower: UQ Art Museum, 40 years and counting on 15 July.

The exhibition runs from 9 July to 13 November.

Images for media use are here.

Public program:  2pm Saturday 16 July

Join exhibition curators Dr Campbell Gray and Samantha Littley for a tour of the exhibition, followed by a conversation with inaugural Director Dr Nancy Underhill.  

Media: Sonia Uranishi,, +61 409 387 623; Sebastian Moody,, +61 7 3346 8761.