UQ Art Museum

Year in Review 2020

A long line of people outside UQ Art Museum on the opening night of Union 2020

Sam Cranstoun To Speak of Cities 2020, vinyl lettering. UQ Art Museum Window Commission, supported by Mrs Jane Tynan and Mr Michael Tynan, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Simon Woods

Sam Cranstoun To Speak of Cities 2020, vinyl lettering. UQ Art Museum Window Commission, supported by Mrs Jane Tynan and Mr Michael Tynan, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Simon Woods

We acknowledge the
Traditional Owners of the land upon which UQ Art Museum stands and pay our respect to Elders
past, present and emerging.

2020 was a year like...

...where do we begin?

Mel O’Callaghan Centre of the Centre 2019, three-channel video, 20 minutes, excerpt 21 seconds. Reproduced courtesy of the artist, KRONENBERG MAIS WRIGHT, Sydney, Galerie Allen, Paris and Galerie Belo-Galsterer, Lisbon.

Mel O’Callaghan Centre of the Centre 2019, three-channel video, 20 minutes, excerpt 21 seconds. Reproduced courtesy of the artist, KRONENBERG MAIS WRIGHT, Sydney, Galerie Allen, Paris and Galerie Belo-Galsterer, Lisbon.

This year, art and art museums became ever more central to the health of communities, particularly when life felt uncertain.


Throughout the lockdown, UQ Art Museum created and curated cultural experiences, projects, and discussions, designed to involve, build, and absorb our communities.  

Respire, Respire performers, part of Mel O'Callaghan's Centre of the Centre exhibition. Photos: Simon Woods

Respire, Respire performers, part of Mel O'Callaghan's Centre of the Centre exhibition. Photos: Simon Woods

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Respire, Respire performers, part of Mel O'Callaghan's Centre of the Centre exhibition. Photos: Simon Woods

Respire, Respire performers, part of Mel O'Callaghan's Centre of the Centre exhibition. Photos: Simon Woods

Even when everything felt different, our mission as a university art museum remained unchanged. We kept learning at the heart of everything we did.

Artwork by Sam Cranstoun featuring the text 'A Simple Story'

Sam Cranstoun A Simple Story 2019. From the series, Between Dystopia and Utopia, acrylic on cardboard. Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2019. Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Carl Warner

Sam Cranstoun A Simple Story 2019. From the series, Between Dystopia and Utopia, acrylic on cardboard. Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2019. Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Carl Warner

Our brilliant UQ colleagues helped us navigate the complex issues we faced during the year, attracting record online audiences.


  • We hosted 44 events for our community in 2020 – 17 were delivered online during the COVID-19 shutdown period.
  • More than 6165 people attended live or watched these events that can be accessed via Facebook and UQ Art Museum Vimeo.
An image of a Zoom panel discussion with Elizabeth Stephens, Peta Rake, Karen Sellberg and Nicola Garrett

We found creative ways for students and academics to safely and virtually access the Art Museum to ensure continuity of teaching and learning throughout the year.

The UQ Art Collection helped us connect with our community about the everyday experiences we were sharing.

Davida Allen's work 'Peta Reading to Babies' resonates with me as a full-time working mother during COVID-19. Like many other working women, I have found it difficult trying to maintain a predictable routine while I do my job and home school children. This artwork captures the tension between domestic life and the outside world. It also portrays a mother’s love and a moment of family connection.
Dr Caroline Wilson-Barnao, lecturer in Communications and Museology at UQ
The ambiguousness of the image calls to mind the uncertain times we find ourselves in at the moment. The bodies are entwined, yet seem disengaged with each other. The gender of the procumbent bodies are not easily determinable or distinguishable, bringing to the fore the suggestion that we are human before any other categorisation.
Shane Pace, Masters of Museum Studies student UQ, QUT Creative Industries academic
A photo of Davida Allen's 'Peta Reading to Babies' 1984 painting

Davida Allen Peta Reading to Babies 1984, oil on canvas. Collection of The University of Queensland. Gift of His Honour Judge Kiernan Dorney QC through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2012. Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane. Photo: Carl Warner.

Davida Allen Peta Reading to Babies 1984, oil on canvas. Collection of The University of Queensland. Gift of His Honour Judge Kiernan Dorney QC through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2012. Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane. Photo: Carl Warner.

Laurence Hope Lovers 1954, oil on composition board. Collection of The University of Queensland. Gift of Dr Stephen Rigby through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2006. Reproduced courtesy of the artist’s estate, London. Photo: Carl Warner

Laurence Hope Lovers 1954, oil on composition board. Collection of The University of Queensland. Gift of Dr Stephen Rigby through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2006. Reproduced courtesy of the artist’s estate, London. Photo: Carl Warner

And our collection contributed to many other stories being told around the country, with 42 artworks loaned to important exhibitions, including:

  • QAGOMA – Shirley Macnamara: Dyinala, Nganinya
  • State Library of Queensland – Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages
  • QAGOMA – Mavis Ngallametta: Show Me the Way to Go Home
  • USC Art Gallery – Michael Cook: Undiscovered
  • Museum of Brisbane – Bauhaus Now
  • Museum of Contemporary Art – Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop
  • QAGOMA – Unfinished Business: The Art of Gordon Bennett.
A photo of Mavis Ngallametta's painting 'Flying to Kendall #2' 2013

Mavis Ngallametta Flying to Kendall #2 2013, ochres and synthetic polymer binder on linen. Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased with the assistance of Cathryn Mittelheuser AM in memory of Margaret Mittelheuser AM, 2014. Reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Mavis Ngallametta and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney. Photo: Carl Warner

Mavis Ngallametta Flying to Kendall #2 2013, ochres and synthetic polymer binder on linen. Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased with the assistance of Cathryn Mittelheuser AM in memory of Margaret Mittelheuser AM, 2014. Reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Mavis Ngallametta and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney. Photo: Carl Warner

 

The global Black Lives Matter protests highlighted ongoing issues facing First Nations people in Australia.

As an institution and as individuals, we're committed to doing the necessary work to ensure we're embedding anti-racist practices across the Art Museum – from policy to programming.

We will continue to address bias and leverage university expertise to ensure our aspirations align with our actions.

Despite physical distancing challenges, we worked creatively to ensure UQ students continued to gain practical art museum experiences, even when we couldn't access the gallery and work spaces.

Many of these opportunities were possible due to the Kinnane Endowment Fund, a perpetual fund that supports UQ students pursuing tertiary studies in Art History and Museum Studies.

Five young women who were UQ Art Museum interns are seated smiling and chatting beside the 'DEMOS' artwork in UQ Art Museum
Five young women who were UQ Art Museum interns are seated smiling and chatting beside the 'DEMOS' artwork in UQ Art Museum
Five young women who were UQ Art Museum interns are seated smiling and chatting beside the 'DEMOS' artwork in UQ Art Museum
Five young women who were UQ Art Museum interns are seated smiling and chatting beside the 'DEMOS' artwork in UQ Art Museum

UQ Art Museum is grateful for the continuing generous support of our donors whose vision and love for art helps drive our initiatives and programs, including educating the next generation of arts professionals.


  • 13 students worked on our front-of-house team throughout 2020.
  • nine students also worked with us as interns and in other professional roles.
Three UQ Art Museum staff members/mentors seated with intern Eva Bunker

UQ Art Museum mentors (back row) Danielle Harvey, Mel Moore and Wendy Mansell with Ashby Utting Foundation Arts Administration Intern Eva Bunker (front)

UQ Art Museum mentors (back row) Danielle Harvey, Mel Moore and Wendy Mansell with Ashby Utting Foundation Arts Administration Intern Eva Bunker (front)

Two UQ Art Museum staff/mentors stand on either side of intern Riva Charles

Kinnane Industry Experience Scholar Riva Charles (centre) with UQ Art Museum mentors Nicola Garrett and Danielle Harvey

Kinnane Industry Experience Scholar Riva Charles (centre) with UQ Art Museum mentors Nicola Garrett and Danielle Harvey

UQ Art Museum staff member Peta Rake stands with intern Zali Matthews

UQ Art Museum mentor Peta Rake with Kinnane Endowment Fund Curatorial Intern Zali Matthews

UQ Art Museum mentor Peta Rake with Kinnane Endowment Fund Curatorial Intern Zali Matthews

A group of mentors and interns are seated on the artwork 'DEMOS'

Some of the 2020 UQ Art Museum mentors and interns

Some of the 2020 UQ Art Museum mentors and interns

'Music of Spheres' student curator Elena Dias-Jayasinha sits with UQ Art Museum mentor Anna Briers

'Music of Spheres' student curator Elena Dias-Jayasinha with UQ Art Museum mentor Anna Briers

'Music of Spheres' student curator Elena Dias-Jayasinha with UQ Art Museum mentor Anna Briers

UQ Art Museum mentor Danielle Harvey stands beside intern Rachaell Crawford-Corser

UQ Art Museum mentor Danielle Harvey with Kinnane Endowment Fund Visitor Engagement intern Rachaell Crawford-Corser

UQ Art Museum mentor Danielle Harvey with Kinnane Endowment Fund Visitor Engagement intern Rachaell Crawford-Corser

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Three UQ Art Museum staff members/mentors seated with intern Eva Bunker

UQ Art Museum mentors (back row) Danielle Harvey, Mel Moore and Wendy Mansell with Ashby Utting Foundation Arts Administration Intern Eva Bunker (front)

UQ Art Museum mentors (back row) Danielle Harvey, Mel Moore and Wendy Mansell with Ashby Utting Foundation Arts Administration Intern Eva Bunker (front)

Two UQ Art Museum staff/mentors stand on either side of intern Riva Charles

Kinnane Industry Experience Scholar Riva Charles (centre) with UQ Art Museum mentors Nicola Garrett and Danielle Harvey

Kinnane Industry Experience Scholar Riva Charles (centre) with UQ Art Museum mentors Nicola Garrett and Danielle Harvey

UQ Art Museum staff member Peta Rake stands with intern Zali Matthews

UQ Art Museum mentor Peta Rake with Kinnane Endowment Fund Curatorial Intern Zali Matthews

UQ Art Museum mentor Peta Rake with Kinnane Endowment Fund Curatorial Intern Zali Matthews

A group of mentors and interns are seated on the artwork 'DEMOS'

Some of the 2020 UQ Art Museum mentors and interns

Some of the 2020 UQ Art Museum mentors and interns

'Music of Spheres' student curator Elena Dias-Jayasinha sits with UQ Art Museum mentor Anna Briers

'Music of Spheres' student curator Elena Dias-Jayasinha with UQ Art Museum mentor Anna Briers

'Music of Spheres' student curator Elena Dias-Jayasinha with UQ Art Museum mentor Anna Briers

UQ Art Museum mentor Danielle Harvey stands beside intern Rachaell Crawford-Corser

UQ Art Museum mentor Danielle Harvey with Kinnane Endowment Fund Visitor Engagement intern Rachaell Crawford-Corser

UQ Art Museum mentor Danielle Harvey with Kinnane Endowment Fund Visitor Engagement intern Rachaell Crawford-Corser

"Though the format has changed slightly, I’ve been very grateful for the continuation of my internship during the Art Museum’s physical closure. I've continued to work on projects I was invested in before COVID-19, and I’ve also gained skills and had a chance to help explore new modes of interaction for UQ Art Museum with the community and its staff in times of self-isolation. Working from home has given me a fresh perspective on how UQ Art Museum can still offer a sense of community for its regular visitors, and I’m glad to have helped develop these new methods of social interaction until we can open the doors once again."
Riva Charles, Kinnane Industry Experience Scholar and third-year UQ Bachelor of Arts student majoring in History and Art History.
"COVID-19 restrictions have inspired active interrogation into how arts workers can navigate this new, physically distanced and intensely online world. Work life is now punctuated with Zoom calls, emails and texts. There’s a lot to miss: the energy that UQ campus brings, my co-workers, and most importantly seeing art – in person! Physical distancing has cast into high relief how heavily mediated the act of looking at art (as we know it) is through physical and spatial dimensions. We don’t just look at art, but also at the space in which it lies, where it unfolds."
Zali Matthews, Kinnane Endowment Fund Curatorial Intern and fourth-year Honours student completing a Bachelor of Advanced Humanities (Honours), majoring in Art History.
"I'm incredibly grateful for Ashby Utting’s generosity in supporting this internship, and to UQ Art Museum for selecting me for the position. I absolutely love the diversity of my role here, and how it enables me to blend my two passions: business and art. As a business-minded creative I’m very thankful to Ashby Utting for creating this invaluable opportunity to help me progress my career in arts museum management."
Eva Bunker, Ashby Utting Foundation Arts Administration Intern, third-year Bachelor of Business Management/Bachelor of Arts (Marketing, Art History) student

Intern Riva Charles stands in front of Sam Cranstoun's exhibition in the Art Museum

Riva Charles. Photo: Simon Woods

Riva Charles. Photo: Simon Woods

Intern Zali Matthews in the Art Museum

Zali Matthews. Photo: Simon Woods

Zali Matthews. Photo: Simon Woods

Intern Eva Bunker seated on the ground floor of the Art Museum

Eva Bunker. Photo: Simon Woods

Eva Bunker. Photo: Simon Woods

As Vice-Chancellor, the late Professor John Hay AC was passionate about the role of UQ Art Museum as a nexus for interdisciplinary learning and a gateway between the University and the community. Support from the John and Barbara Hay Foundation enabled UQ Art Museum to embed cultural mediation practice into the Art Museum this year – a strategy to unify people through art.


This saw us build mutual exchange, agency, peer-to-peer learning, and active listening into our interactions with visitors to redefine the perceived power relationship between museum and audience, and to challenge the way we approach the visitor experience.

Cultural Mediation intern Rachaell Crawford-Corser chats with a young woman. A colourful artwork is in the foreground.

Our front-of-house team has journeyed alongside our visitors to examine and share perspectives on Union, which has led to countless hours of thought-provoking and cross-disciplinary conversations with our visitors.

"My favourite moment this year has been walking through the exhibition space and hearing Nikia talking and laughing with two of our visitors. Cultural mediation has totally transformed the Art Museum’s atmosphere."
— Danielle Harvey, Engagement and Training Officer
Cultural Mediator Nikia talks with Art Museum visitors in front of Mel O'Callaghan's artwork
"A video was developed by UQ Art Museum, which looks at their guiding principles when applying a cultural mediation practice to better engage audiences. The Queensland gallery has been at the forefront of implementation of best practice cultural mediation."
– Gina Fairley, Arts Hub
Three men and one woman from Digi Youth Arts mid-performance in the Art Museum foyer.

Digi Youth Arts performing at the 2020 Union opening

Digi Youth Arts performing at the 2020 Union opening

In early February, we welcomed friends, colleagues and supporters to celebrate our major opening for Union – what would be our only opening event in 2020.

Opening night of 'Union' at UQ Art Museum in February 2020

Opening night of 'Union' at UQ Art Museum in February 2020

While it wasn't the year any of us had imagined, we appreciated the time to deeply interrogate our 2020 program, and to consider how common purpose and collective action applied to social isolation and the new physical distancing norms.

Andreas Angelidakis DEMOS 2020.

Andreas Angelidakis DEMOS 2020.

Dr Campbell Gray, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Peta Rake, Dr. Daniel J. Fornari and Mel O'Callaghan are seated before an audience in the Art Museum foyer

Dr Campbell Gray, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Peta Rake, Dr. Daniel J. Fornari, Mel O'Callaghan

Dr Campbell Gray, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Peta Rake, Dr. Daniel J. Fornari, Mel O'Callaghan

Our work with major Australian and international partners was realised through exciting projects grounded in research that inspired and challenged our thinking, and harnessed the hidden talents of our staff.

Curator Anna Briers

Curator Anna Briers

Physical plans were flipped into the digital realm. We explored ground-breaking content and issues through art, research and conversations relevant to audiences around the world, including in the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and in regional Australia.


  • More than 5500 visits were made to the exclusively online Conflict in My Outlook_We Met Online exhibition with more than 20,000 page views.
  • Around 1000 UQ and other university students engaged with our exhibitions through diverse online and in-person classes, workshops, and tours.

We're proud of the UQ Art Museum team and what we've achieved together. We rose to the challenges that 2020 delivered, with humour, creativity and kindness.

And we're ready for 2021 — whatever it may bring.

UQ Art Museum team members are seated across the DEMOS artwork by Andreas Angelidakis in a tableau

Andreas Angelidakis DEMOS 2020. Photo: Simon Woods

Andreas Angelidakis DEMOS 2020. Photo: Simon Woods

Visit UQ Art Museum in 2021

art-museum.uq.edu.au