Culture Victoria

The Johnston Collection

Bookings required EAST MELBOURNE Phone: (03) 9416 2515 Visit Website

Located in East Melbourne, The Johnston Collection is the legacy of the late W.R. Johnston, an antique dealer with an extraordinary eye for beauty.

The collection is unfettered by ropes or barriers and is rich in the fine and decorative arts from the Georgian, Regency and Louis XV periods. Whilst a visit can be a moving aesthetic experience, the social, cultural and political context that surrounds the individual pieces is the basis for good storytelling. Different kinds of tours are available, offering passive enjoyment or active learning experiences.

Our Collection

The benefactor William Johnston's 'collecting' commenced when he was given a Minton teacup, circa 1811 when he was about the age of eight in 1919. Collection items were selected by the Trustees from the estate of William Robert Johnston (1911-1986) and includes ceramics, furniture, glass, horology, metalwork, paintings (including miniatures and engravings), textiles, and objets d'art predominantly from and particularly strong in English, but also includes some European (French and German), as well as Indian, Chinese and Japanese items. The 'A' Collection predominantly reflects stylistic and technical developments of the Georgian and Regency period and the reign of Louis XV (circa 1714 to 1837). There are some earlier pieces (post 1600) and a small selection of Victorian items (pre 1850). The collection is primarily concerned with [the history and development] items of English [urban, middle-class] interiors used predominantly from the mid 18th century to circa 1840. The focus of items is principally for the main (primary) living spaces and the secondary spaces (bedrooms, study) as opposed to kitchen or bathroom. There were no Australian made items in the collection. Other discrete collections have developed over time and these can be described as a Teaching collection (est. circa 2006) - 43 items designated as a handling collection including items of especially glass, porcelain and silver ; Interpretive [Prop] collection (est. circa 1990 - 1999) - unknown number of items acquired to create 'atmosphere or presence' in Fairhall tours These uncatalogued items include clothing (suits, jackets, shirts, trousers, shoes and slippers), books, sporting equipment, and household appliances. Christmas Collection - items acquired from the Christmas tours (est. circa 2003 - 2008) Library and Archive: The library's now holds nearly 2,200 volumes and contains general and specialist publications on the history of fine and decorative arts, with focus on the domestic interior, furniture, glass, textiles, fine art, food and drink, social history, household management, Christmas, architecture, gardens, design and designers as well as museological reference titles essential to the research relating to our programs.

The Johnston Collection comprises items collected and owned by the late W R Johnston (1911-1986) and includes items of high quality of design, manufacture, materials or craftsmanship and items which directly relate to the Georgian and Regency periods (18th century to circa 1840)and the reign of Louis XV (circa 1714 to 1837).

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