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Explore Artat Heide


Heide’s artistic program honours the legacy of founders John and Sunday Reed through a variety of changing exhibitions that draw on the museum’s modernist history and the Reeds’ philosophy of supporting innovative contemporary art and ideas.

In recent years the program focus has been on mid-career Australian artist surveys, the work of women artists, and thematic exhibitions that reappraise modern art movements. Since 2006 Heide has showcased early career artists in the museum’s Kerry Gardner and Andrew Myer Project Gallery, while the Albert and Barbara Tucker Gallery program brings the Albert Tucker Collection into dialogue with art by his peers and contemporary practice. Heide Modern exhibitions are often site-responsive installations that are in conversation with the building’s much admired warm palette of materials and harmonious spatial qualities, while the Heide Cottage display celebrates the foundation story of the museum with works from the Collection by artists in the Heide Circle.

More than 500 artists

Making Modernism installation view, 2016, photograph: Jeremy Weihrauch

The Collection

The core of the Heide Collection comprises 500 artworks assembled from the 1930s to the 1970s by the museum’s founders, John and Sunday Reed. The Reeds supported innovative contemporary art of the day and the artists they first championed are now regarded as central figures in the history of Australian modernism—particularly Arthur Boyd, Joy Hester, Sidney Nolan, John Perceval, Albert Tucker and Danila Vassilieff, a group known as the Heide Circle or Angry Penguins.

In the 1950s and 60s the Reeds collected the work of progressive newcomers such as Charles Blackman, Mike Brown, Mirka Mora and Fred Williams. During the following decade they focused on the work of a younger generation of artists including Sydney Ball, Col Jordan and Les Kossatz, contemporaries of their adopted son Sweeney Reed, whose text-based works in the Heide Collection have been subsequently augmented by substantial holdings of concrete poetry.

Since the museum opened in 1981 the Collection has expanded through numerous individual gifts as well as four significant collections—the Museum of Modern Art and Design Collection, the Baillieu Myer Collection of the 80s, the Barrett Reid Bequest, and most recently, the Albert Tucker Gift. Through such donations the Collection now represents many leading contemporary Australian artists. Heide also has one of the largest collections of outdoor sculpture in Australia, including major works by Anthony Caro, Simryn Gill, Anish Kapoor and Inge King.

Prior to his death in 1999, the artist Albert Tucker and his wife Barbara made a decision to donate a significant proportion of their personal collection to the nation. The majority of the works, together with their library of art books and related archive material is now part of the Heide Collection.

The Heide Archive

Heide holds an extensive support collection of artefacts, ephemera, artists’ papers and archives relating to the history of Heide as the domestic residence of John and Sunday Reed and as a public cultural institution, and to the artists and artworks represented in the Collection.

The Heide Archive is open to researchers by appointment.

photograph: Fred Kroh

Current Exhibitions