The Grainger Museum is a repository of items documenting the life, career and music of the composer, folklorist, educator and pianist Percy Grainger (b. Melbourne, 1882; d. White Plains, New York, 1961), located in the grounds of the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
In the early 1920s, Grainger began to develop an idea for an autobiographical museum so that "all very intimate letters or notes should be deposited in an Australian Grainger Museum, preferably in birth-town Melbourne". Grainger was a linguistic purist, advocating for the use of a 'Blue-Eyed English' derived from Anglo-Saxon and Germanic glossary. As a result, he generally used the word 'past-hoard-house' for museums, but agreed to the word 'museum' in this case.
The Museum was designed by the University's staff architect John Gawler of the local firm Gawler and Drummond, with input and funding from Grainger himself. It was built between 1935 and 1939 on land provided for the purpose by the University of Melbourne, and officially opened in December 1938. Designed specifically to fulfill the role envisioned by Grainger, it is the only purpose-built autobiographical museum in Australia.
The Grainger Museum was closed in 2003 for seven years, for restoration and conservation work, after waterproofing issues were detected. It reopened on 15 October 2010.
Among displays of original manuscripts and published scores, musical instruments, field recordings, artworks, photographs, books and personal items, are Grainger’s whips and other items relating to his sado-masochism (which Grainger called the "Lust Branch"), the contents of his bedside cabinet, and a gallery devoted to his mother’s suicide. There are also sound-making devices Grainger used to make his innovative and experimental "Free music".
The substantial archival collection includes some 50,000 items of correspondence (with people such as Edvard Grieg, Frederick Delius, Cyril Scott, Richard Wagner and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) and the collection generally comprises over 100,000 items in total, only a small proportion of which are on display. The remainder of the collection is accessible for research by prior arrangement.
Grainger Museum opening hours
Monday to Friday: 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm – 4:00pm
The Grainger Museum is closed on public holidays and from Christmas throughout the month of January each year.
- Percy Grainger, letter to Balfour Gardiner, 3 May 1922 (Grainger Museum Collection)
- George Tibbits, 'Building the Grainger Museum', in Talking Grainger, edited by Kate Darian-Smith and Alessandro Servadei, The Australian Centre and the Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne, 1998, pp. 45-70.
- Collections Australia Network