TarraWarra Museum of Art
TarraWarra Museum of Art captures the vision of its founders, philanthropists Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AC, passionate collectors of Australian art from the 1950s to the present day. Not only did they gift the building that houses the Museum, but also a significant proportion of their collection of modern and contemporary Australian art for the enjoyment of all visitors from Australia and abroad.
Established as a not-for-profit charity in October 2000, with a constitution and an independent Board of Directors.
In April 2002, the Prime Minister, The Honourable John Howard launched the Museum at its temporary premises at the Metropolitan Meat Market on Blackwood Street, Melbourne, where three exhibitions were held.
‘Tarrawarra’ is a Woiwurrung word that translates approximately as ‘slow moving water’ and is the name given to the area within the Yarra Valley in which the Museum is located.
Building a Museum
In 2000, an architectural competition was conducted with five of Melbourne’s leading architects invited to present design schemes. Allan Powell’s design, arcing gently from the earth in concert with the contours and hues of the landscape, was selected.
Construction of the Museum began in 2002 and was undertaken by Probuild Constructions. TarraWarra Museum of Art was opened by the Victorian Premier, The Honourable Steve Bracks MP on 12 December 2003. The Welcome to Country was given by Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin AO, who also gifted a feather of the wedge-tailed eagle, the Wurundjeri ancestral being Bunjil. Aunty Joy has written: ‘Bunjil creates all living and natural beings: the ngarrak (mountains), the animals, the queep-queep (birds), the kalk (trees) and the Birrarung (Yarra River)’.
Not only did Eva and Marc gift the building that houses the Museum, and four hectares of land on a 99-year lease, they also donated an extensive private collection to the Museum.