Heide Museum of Modern Art

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Heide Museum of Modern Art
Heide I front 2009.JPG
Heide I, a former farm house, is now dedicated to displays from the Collection and Archive.
Established 1981
Location Bulleen, Manningham,
Melbourne, Australia
Type Modern & Contemporary art museum,
Historic site, Sculpture park
Visitors 70,000[1]
Public transit access Route 903 SmartBus from Heidelberg Station
Website www.heide.com.au

Heide Museum of Modern Art, or Heide as it is affectionately known, is a modern and contemporary art museum located in Bulleen, east of Melbourne, Australia. Established in 1981, the museum comprises several detached buildings and surrounding gardens of historical importance that are used as gallery spaces to exhibit works in various mediums by contemporary Australian artists. Heide is unique within the context of Melbourne’s cultural sector as it brings together art, gardens and architecture, as well as a rich social and artistic history.

The museum occupies the site of a former dairy farm that was purchased by the prominent Melbourne art benefactors John and Sunday Reed in 1934 and became home to a collective known as the Heide Circle, which included many of Australia's best-known modernist painters, such as; Albert Tucker, Sidney Nolan, Laurence Hope, Joy Hester and others, who lived and worked in the former farm house (Heide I).[2]

Between 1964 and 1967, a new residence was built (Heide II). It is considered to be one of the finest examples of modernist architecture in Victoria. In 1980, the Reeds sold Heide II, most of the adjoining property and significant works from their art collection to the Victorian State Government after several years of negotiations for the creation of a public art gallery and park. The main gallery (Heide III) was constructed in 1993 and the Heide Collection has since expanded through many individual gifts as well as four significant collections—the Museum of Modern Art and Design Collection, the Baillieu Myer Collection of the 80s, the Barrett Reid Collection, and most recently, the Albert Tucker Gift donated by Barbara Tucker.

The museum underwent major redevelopment in 2005-06 which involved significant extensions to the Heide III building by O'Connor + Houle Architecture, construction of the Sidney Myer Education Centre, restoration work on Heide II and surrounding gardens, and the creation of the Sir Rupert Hamer Memorial Garden, the Tony and Cathie Hancy Sculpture plaza and the Federation Way Car Park.

In 2009 Chris Connell Design and McCorkell Construction completed the new Heide Cafe, currently occupied by Cafe Vue. This completed the capital works expansion and building upgrades at Heide.

The current Director and CEO of Heide is Kirsty Grant.


Heide I and front gardens.
See also: Heide Circle

Early history[edit]

The museum is situated on a site that was originally occupied by a dairy farm, the farm house was built in the 1880s-1890s. The Yarra River and surrounding hills east of Melbourne provided an ideal setting for many artists, writers, poets, etc., exemplified in the formation of the Heidelberg School at Heidelberg, Montsalvat in Eltham and various artist camps in locations such as Box Hill and Warrandyte. Thus, the area was frequented by artists since the mid-19th century.

In 1934, the farm was purchased by John and Sunday Reed, passionate supporters and collectors of modern Australian art, who named the property Heide after the nearby town of Heidelberg. After moving into the farmhouse in 1935, they established a unique private library, including modernist literature, international art books, journals and magazines. Heide became a focal point for progressive art and culture as the Reeds opened their home to like-minded individuals such as artists Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Danila Vassilieff. Nolan, who lived at Heide intermittently for almost a decade, painted his celebrated Ned Kelly series in the dining room.[3]

In 1963, the Reeds commissioned Melbourne architect David McGlashan to design a new residence, that had a sense of mystery and romance, one that was "a gallery to be lived in". Synthesising local and international design ideas, the light-filled home they called Heide II was constructed out of Mount Gambier limestone with a palette of minimal secondary materials and neutral colours. The Reeds moved into Heide II in 1967 and Sunday Reed established the second kitchen garden near the new house. This modernist building remained their home until 1980.

Museum establishment[edit]

The Reeds returned to live in Heide I, the old farmhouse after selling Heide II, most of the adjoining property and a significant portion of their art collection (113 works) to the Victorian State Government in August 1980. The purchase was agreed to and signed off by the Minister for the Arts at the time, the Hon. Norman Lacy who continued to provide the Government's on-going support for the creation of a public art gallery, to be named 'Heide Park and Art Gallery'. The interior of Heide II was modified in preparation of it opening as a public art gallery in November 1981.

Dr Norman Wettenhall was appointed the first Chairman and the then Premier of Victoria, Sir Rupert Hamer was honoured as the inaugural Patron. Maudie Palmer AO was appointed the inaugural Director.

Recent history[edit]

The museum underwent major redevelopment in 2005-06 which included the installation of several sculptural and installation art pieces, landscaping and redesign of the gardens, construction of a new education centre & gallery space, extension of the Heide III building to incorporate works from the Barbara Tucker Gift and various other works. On 13 July 2006 the museum officially re-opened after its $3 million dollar renovation and extension. The new buildings were designed by O'Connor + Houle Architecture.[4]

Buildings, features, and layout[edit]

Heide III, southwestern side and forecourt.
Heide II, viewed from the northeast side.

Heide is situated on a former floodplain of the Yarra River in Bulleen. It is bordered to the north-east and east by the Yarra Valley Country Club, to the west and south by Banksia Park, and to the south-east by Templestowe Road. The site borders the Yarra River, at Fannings Bend, in its north-west corner. The museum itself comprises several detached buildings and surrounding gardens and parklands on the site, described in further detail below, all of which are used in various capacities as exhibition spaces.

Buildings and facilities[edit]

  • Heide I - built 1870, renovated 1934, restored 2010
A former farm house, the building was purchased by the Reeds in 1934 and renovated in the French Provençal style. It underwent various renovations in 1935, 1954, 1980 and then restored in 2001 and most recently in 2010. Currently it is dedicated to exhibitions and displays from the Collection and Archive.
  • Heide II - built 1964
Designed by Melbourne architect David McGlashan of McGlashan Everist, it was intended as "a gallery to be lived in" and served as the Reeds residence until 1980. The building is considered one of the best examples of modernist architecture in Victoria and awarded the Royal Institute of Architects (Victorian Chapter) Bronze Medal - the highest award for residential architecture in the State - in 1968. It is currently used to display works from the Collection.
  • Heide III - built 1993, extended 2005
Originally designed by Andrew Andersens of Peddle Thorp Architects and later extended to include additional exhibition spaces and better visitor amenities. It is the largest gallery wing of the museum including: the Central Galleries; the Albert & Barbara Tucker Gallery, the Kerry Gardner & Andrew Myer Project Gallery; the Tucker Study Centre; and the Heide Store.
  • Sidney Myer Education Centre - built 2005
Designed by O’Connor and Houle Architecture, its purpose is expressed as "a dynamic learning and thinking space for teachers, students, and community groups." The centre offers innovative and diverse education and public programs based on the art, architecture and gardens of Heide.
  • Heide Cafe - redeveloped 2009

After a 19-month redevelopment program Cafe Vue at Heide opened to the public on 24 November 2009. The $1.5 million redevelopment was designed by Chris Connell Design (CCD). Inspired by the award winning architecture of Heide and its beautiful gardens, Café Vue at Heide is a sleek and elegant addition to this iconic site. The café’s glass pavilion seats 55 patrons inside and an outdoor area seats an additional 55 patrons.

The building has recycled existing granite and limestone and incorporates new materials including - anodised lso aluminium, glass, steel and additional timber sourced from sustainable forests. Sustainable elements have been incorporated in the design.

Gardens and Sculpture Park[edit]

The fifteen acres of landscape at Heide have been developed over several decades in tandem with its art and architecture. When John and Sunday Reed purchased Heide in 1934, it was a neglected former dairy farm. They immediately set about establishing a Provençal-inspired kitchen garden adjacent to the original farmhouse and initiated a major planting program. Today, the cultivated landscape includes a sculpture park with over thirty sculptures, several of the original gardens which are now heritage listed, an Indigenous Remnant Conservation Zone and a diverse range of exotic trees, unusual roses, herbs, flowers and vegetables.

Some notable works in the sculpture park include:

  • Cows, Jeff Thomson, 1987
  • In The Presence Of Form II, Anish Kapoor, 1993
  • Running Man, Rick Amor, 1996-2003
  • Theoretical Matter, Neil Taylor, 1999-2000
  • Rings of Saturn, Inge King, 2005–06
  • A Native Rockery Garden, Fiona Hall, 2009
  • Crescent House, Andrew Burns, 2013


The installation on the lawns to the north of the museum, entitled Cows, by Jeff Thomson, 1987
  • Heide I – Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm
  • Heide II – Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm
  • Heide III – Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm
Heide Store (In Heide III) – Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm
  • Gardens & Sculpture Park – FREE


The core of the museum's Collection was assembled over five decades by Heide founders John and Sunday Reed who collected a broad range of art from figurative to abstract, expressionist to realist. The Collection includes works by artists such as Moya Dyring, Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval, Arthur Boyd, Howard Arkley, Charles Blackman, Peter Booth, Mike Brown, Richard Larter, Wolfgang Sievers, Sweeney Reed, Sam Atyeo and Jenny Watson. It has since expanded through many individual gifts as well as four significant donations — the Museum of Modern Art and Design Collection, the Baillieu Myer Collection of the 80s, the Barrett Reid Collection, and most recently, the Albert and Barbara Tucker Gift. Heide continues to add to its collection with work by contemporary Australian artists, with either donated funds or generous gifts. Heide also holds an extensive support collection of artefacts, ephemera and archives relating to the history of Heide as the domestic residence of John and Sunday Reed and as a public institution, and to the artists and art works represented in the Collection, for example Mike Brown, Albert Tucker and Danila Vassilieff.[5]

In Media[edit]

The museum, exhibitions and the surrounding gardens have served as subject matter for various photographers and featured in many Australian television programs:

  • The courtyard of Heide III was the setting for an art school graduation in Very Small Business, ABC TV series, 2008
  • The museum's gardens were featured in an episode of Gardening Australia in 2007 and 2011.
  • The Heide I kitchen garden and publication Sunday's Garden was featured in an episode of Postcards in 2012.
  • The sculpture park was the setting for a yoga retreat in Winners and Losers, Channel 7 TV series, 2012.
  • The story of Heide was featured in episode two of the landmark three-part series The Art of Australia with Edmond Capon in 2013.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heide Annual Report 2007
  2. ^ http://www.arts.vic.gov.au/content/Public/Arts_in_Victoria/Spaces_and_Places/Heide_Museum_of_Modern_Art.aspx
  3. ^ Heide Museum of Modern Art Website
  4. ^ Freegard, J. 14 July 2006.$3 million for the heart of art, Herald Sun
  5. ^ http://www.heide.com.au/collection/about-collection/

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°45′39″S 145°04′59″E / 37.76091°S 145.08317°E / -37.76091; 145.08317