Skip to main content

A gift for all ages

by Rod Kemp, 1 September 2003

The then Minister for the Arts and Sport, Rod Kemp, reflects on the value of the Cultural Gifts Program.

Portrait bust of Dr Christine Rivett, c. 1950 cast 1955-6 Daphne Mayo
Portrait bust of Dr Christine Rivett, c. 1950 cast 1955-6 Daphne Mayo

Who doesn't love receiving gifts? And when the presents are culturally significant items Australia's collecting institutions are certainly grateful recipients.

In 2003 we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Commonwealth Cultural Gifts Program. With more than $270 million worth of gifts donated to participating organisations over the 25 years it is evident that Australians are generous supporters of the cultural sector.

The 25th Anniversary will be celebrated in August with the launch of an Online Gallery showcasing around 100 gifts from 50 organisations. A visit to this virtual gallery reveals a wealth of magnificent, intriguing and unusual items from Australia and around the world.

The fascinating and diverse pieces on display include artworks by Fred Williams, William Robinson and Ellis Rowan; images from some of Australia's greatest photographers such as Max Dupain and Don McMurdo; scientific wonders like a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and the St Albans plesiosaur fossil; artefacts from the South Pacific Islands; a Coco Chanel suit; and a Rolls Royce Phantom V. There is something to delight everybody in the gallery, which reflects the diversity of Australia's cultural institutions.

More than 380 collecting institutions, including the National Portrait Gallery, participate in the Cultural Gifts Program. The program helps public collecting institutions acquire material they may otherwise have been denied.

Through the generosity of donors, the National Portrait Gallery has received donations of artworks valued at $1.7 million, adding significantly to its collection. The works of art donated under the Cultural Gifts Program have included Salvatore Zof rea's Portrait of Peter Farrell, A Portfolio of Australian Women Artists by Anne Zahalka and (illustrated) Daphne Mayo's bust of Christine Rivett.

Ultimately the Australian community reaps the rewards of philanthropic support through increased cultural activity and exposure to a more dynamic and creative cultural sector. I'd like to thank all the donors whose generosity has contributed to the ongoing richness of Australia's cultural identity by enhancing the collections of public collecting institutions.

© National Portrait Gallery 2019
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.