RMIT School of Art

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RMIT School of Art
School of Art
Former names School of Applied Art
Established 1917
Type art school
Academic affiliation RMIT University
Location Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Dean Julian Goddard[1]
Website School of Art

The RMIT School of Art is an Australian university art school located in Melbourne, Victoria, which is responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate education and research in fine art and photography at RMIT University. Established in 1917, it is the top art school in Australia (16th in the world) according to the 2016 QS World University Rankings.


Art education has been offered at RMIT since its foundation in 1887 (as the Working Men's College),[2] as part of a suite of "art, science and technological" classes envisioned by its founder Francis Ormond.[3] The early art classes of the College were modelled on those of British and European art schools—particularly the Brighton College of Art (now the University of Brighton) and the South Kensington Science and Art School (now the Royal College of Art) in the United Kingdom.[4]

By 1899, around 400 students were taking classes in architectural and freehand drawing, painting, sculpture and wood-carving at the College.[5] Its architectural classes were the first in Victoria,[6] and remained part of the School of Art until 1934 when they broke away to form the predecessor to the RMIT School of Architecture and Design.[7]

RMIT School of Art's original Building 2 and buildings 4 and 6 at the Melbourne City campus

Photography commenced at the College in 1891,[8] and classes in wet-plate photography, photoengraving, photolithography and collotype and carbon printing were all offered by 1902.[9] Instructor Ludovico Hart founded the one the earliest photographic clubs in Australia at the College in 1892 and, between 1904 and 1905, instructor James Aebi also took what were likely the first colour photographs in Australia at the College.[9] The Working Men's College Photographic Club continues today as The Melbourne Camera Club.[10]

Art became a separate school at RMIT in 1917, as the School of Applied Art (and the second following the Trades School in 1890), with a building for its own purposes completed that year.[11] The foundation stone for the new School building was laid by the Premier of Victoria, Sir Alexander Peacock, on January 25, 1915,[11] and the School was officially opened with a 1 oz 15 karat gold and enamelled key by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Arthur Stanley, on January 25, 1917.[12] Since 2008, the original key is held by Melbourne Museum as part of its history of technology collection.[13]

Photography was dropped from the College curricula in 1914, but recommenced as a certificate course in the School of Art in 1936.[14] It became a department of the School in 1956, with a diploma course developed by Dr. Neil Lewis from Kodak which he modelled on that of the Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States.[14]

Courses and programs[edit]

The School of Art offers vocational certificate and diploma courses in visual arts and photography programs; bachelor's and master's degree courses in fine art and photography programs and a Doctorate of Philosophy in art.[15] In 2016 it was ranked 16th in the world for art and design subjects in the QS World University Rankings,[16] making it the top art school in Australia.

Galleries and research[edit]

The School of Art has a number of gallery spaces, the largest of these being in buildings 2 and 94 on the RMIT Melbourne City campus,[17] and links to the RMIT campus union's First Site Gallery and the University's major gallery RMIT Gallery. Its major research centres are the Centre for Art, Society and Transformation, which focuses on the capacity of art for social engagement,[18] and the multi-disciplinary Audiokinetic Experiments (AkE) Lab.[19] It is also a part of the Arts, Ecology, Globalization and the Interpretation of Science (AEGIS) and Photo Imaging Research inter-university networks.[20][21]


Notable alumni of the School of Art include: painters Charles Billich, Lindsay Edward, Vincent Fantauzzo, Harold Freedman, Kenneth Jack, Robert Jacks, John Kelly, Sam Leach, Gareth Sansom and Charles Wheeler; drawers/illustrators David de Vries, Virginia Grayson, William Ellis Green, Robert Ingpen and Anne Judell; photographers Grahame King, Charles Page and Christian Thompson; sculptors/metalsmiths Kingsley Baird, Peter Corlett, Stuart Devlin, Raymond Boultwood Ewers, Leonard French, Clement Meadmore and Lenton Parr; and former National Gallery of Australia director Ron Radford.

Its notable faculty include: Godwin Bradbeer, Betty Churcher, Lindsay Edward, Vincent Fantauzzo, Harold Freedman, Virginia Grayson, Murray Griffin, Pamela Irving, Inge King, Simon Perry, Udo Sellbach, Napier Waller and Teisutis Zikaras.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ 2016 Annual Report. RMIT University, p. 12. Retrieved June 05, 2017
  2. ^ Murray-Smith & Dare 1987, pp. 30–31
  3. ^ Ross 1912, p. 73
  4. ^ Ross 1912, p. 80, p. 99
  5. ^ Murray-Smith & Dare 1987, p.64. p. 77
  6. ^ Edquist & Grierson 2008, p. 4
  7. ^ Murray-Smith & Dare 1987, p. 231
  8. ^ Edquist & Grierson 2008, p. 29
  9. ^ a b Murray-Smith & Dare 1987, p. 76
  10. ^ A Short History. The Melbourne Camera Club. Retrieved June 07, 2017
  11. ^ a b Murray-Smith & Dare 1987, p. 87
  12. ^ Edquist & Grierson 2008, p. 22
  13. ^ Edquist & Grierson 2008, p. 24
  14. ^ a b Murray-Smith & Dare 1987, p. 309
  15. ^ Teaching areas—School of Art. RMIT University. Retrieved June 07, 2017
  16. ^ 2016 Annual Report, p. 20
  17. ^ About. Intersect—School of Art. RMIT University. Retrieved June 07, 2017
  18. ^ Centre for Art Society and Transformation. RMIT University. Retrieved June 07, 2017
  19. ^ Audiokinetic Experiments Lab. RMIT University. Retrieved June 07, 2017
  20. ^ AEGIS Research Network. RMIT University. Retrieved June 07, 2017
  21. ^ Photo Imaging Research Network. RMIT University. Retrieved June 07, 2017


  • Ross, C. Stuart (1912). Francis Ormond: Pioneer, Patriot, Philanthropist. London: Melville & Mullen. 
  • Murray-Smith, Stephen; Dare, Andrew John (1987). The Tech: A Centenary History of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Melbourne: Hyland House Publishing. ISBN 0 947062 06 8. 
  • Edquist, Harriet; Grierson, Elizabeth (2008). A Skilled Hand and Cultivated Mind: A Guide to the Architecture and Art of RMIT. Melbourne: RMIT University Press. ISBN 978-1-921166-91-4. 

External links[edit]

School of Art

Coordinates: 37°48′28″S 144°57′48″E / 37.80778°S 144.96333°E / -37.80778; 144.96333