In 1961, with the foundation of the university, the first Vice Chancellor at Monash University, Louis Matheson, established an annual acquisition fund for the purchase of artworks by living Australian artists. The aim of the Monash University Collection was to support culture, to embellish the new buildings and environments, and to inspire and engage students and staff through contemporary art. Built over five decades of scholarship, the Collection demonstrates the evolution of art and knowledge production in Australia, and extends from the key themes that have concerned Australian artists across half a century.
The Monash University Collection includes a diverse range of media from painting, sculpture and photography to video, installation and new media. Known for its adventurousness and commitment to contemporary art as it develops, the Monash University Collection is recognised nationally for its focus upon contemporary art since the 1960s and for its currency, depth and diversity. Through a commitment to public art, an active artwork loan program and through the display of art in prominent public spaces, the Collection provides focal points of interest, provocation and reflection. In this way, it is also an important bridge between research, the University and the wider community.
Among the works in the Monash University Collection are those by Brook Andrew, Howard Arkley, Gordon Bennett, Vivienne Binns, Arthur Boyd, Ian Burn, Mutlu Çerkez, Juan Davila, Destiny Deacon, Mikala Dwyer, Bonita Ely, Emily Floyd, Fiona Foley, Simryn Gill, Elizabeth Gower, Dale Hickey, Bill Henson, Robert Hunter, Raafat Ishak, Maria Kozic, Lindy Lee, Geoff Lowe, Linda Marrinon, Tracey Moffatt, Callum Morton, Nicholas Mangan, Susan Norrie, Raquel Ormella, Mike Parr, Patricia Piccinini, Stuart Ringholt, Ricky Swallow, Christian Thompson, Garawan Wanambi, Jenny Watson and Fred Williams among many others.