Established by the University Council in July 2003, Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation is Australia’s leading centre of excellence for art and cultural materials conservation and preservation.
Built on the commitment that culture matters to individuals and societies, and on the understanding that the University of Melbourne has a critical role to play in the articulation and preservation of culture through education, research and translation, the Centre has a clear vision of success:
A globally connected conservation research Centre leading regional and global programs to sustain our shared cultural record
This vision is supported by:
- strong partnerships across Australia, and internationally for teaching, research and translation;
- state-of-the-art conservation infrastructure and associated expertise;
- scholars and practitioners who demonstrate global excellence;
- access to integrated University of Melbourne expertise and support;
- a robust and sustainable business model supported by the Faculty of Arts;
- staff who generate and lead a culture of inquiry, excellence and commitment.
Three key facets define the ability of the Centre to deliver against its vision.
- Strong interdisciplinary focus that gives staff the ability to work across Humanities, Social Sciences and Science disciplines including with History, Art History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Media Studies, Film Production, Indigenous Studies, Curatorial Studies, Architectural Heritage, Earth Sciences, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Information Technology, and others.
- Strong partnerships with individuals and organisations in urban, rural, and regional communities, including Indigenous leaders, Southeast Asian museums and international institutions.
- The commitment of staff to drive community engagement, student programs and research translation projects.
Uniquely positioned as one of the only Research Centres of its kind in the world, the Grimwade Centre combines three core activity streams which seek to advance conservation practices in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Knowledge transfer to develop leading professionals
- Increase in skilled workers protecting and conserving cultural material
- Distribute conservation expertise across a range of roles and workplaces
- Deliver equitable education that empowers people and their communities
- Local and international leadership in innovation
- Lead interdisciplinary exchange and collaborations
- Amplify the role cultural material plays in the growth of social capital and community identity
- Sustainable research through translation, innovation and commercialisation
- Testing of research outputs on real world challenges
- Commercialisation of research IP
- Industry and community engagement in research solutions
- Provide university expertise and knowledge to support the conservation needs of people and their communities
Located at The University of Melbourne, our research is interwoven through teaching and translated for commercial applications. As a post-graduate program and conservation service, our Research centre is designed to provide broad but integrated outcomes.
In its current strategic plan (2022–2027), Grimwade identifies three priority areas:
- Digital Heritage
- Indigenous conservators
- Contemporary conservation practices
These priority research areas provide a future-facing platform for emerging conservators and supports the identified needs of our partners.
Conserving Australia’s cultural record
1987 - The University of Melbourne’s recognition of the discipline began with the employment of a part- time conservator to service the Universities collections of cultural material. The Sir Russell and Lady Mab Grimwade Miegunyah Bequest provided financial support for the conservator’s employment
1990 - The Ian Potter Foundation supported the refurbishment of a laboratory which was subsequently renamed the Ian Potter Art Conservation Centre. The operating budget for the Ian Potter Conservation Centre was $50k and the Business Plan outlined the aims and responsibilities as encompassing:
- Teaching and research, managed through the Fine Arts department
- Conservation for the University collections, including treatment, policy and management advice
- Commercial programs for external clients, including training, research and treatment work on public and private collections
1993 - The Centre budget grew to $175k through increased support from the Grimwade Miegunyah Bequest
1994 - Launched the fee-for-service commercial program for external clients. In the first year of operation the commercial program generated $35k of new revenue which steadily grew to $1.13m by 2010.
2004 - During this period of commercial growth, a newly invigorated Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation was established as a joint initiative of the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Science and the Ian Potter Museum of Art in recognition of the potential for unique interdisciplinary collaboration in the field of Cultural Materials Conservation. As a Research centre within the Faculty of Arts, it extended its academic offering to include Masters by Coursework and Research Higher Degrees, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas. Coinciding with the establishment of the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the Commercial Services arm of the business is relocated off campus to the Public Records Office in North Melbourne.
2010 - Commercial Services was transferred from the Faculty of Arts to UoM Commercial Ltd, the commercial engagement services company of the University of Melbourne. Despite a number of business reviews and structural changes between 2010 and 2018, revenue growth was slow at a variable rate of 5.6% per annum (average).
2014 - Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation receives a major philanthropic gift from the Cripps foundation of $6.9 million to support the practice and teaching of art conservation. The gift is believed to be the world’s largest-ever in support of this field, and was pledged to support the establishment of the Grimwade Centre and a professorial chair.
2015 - A new facility, known as the Grimwade Centre is built on Swanston Street. Research, learning and teaching in the increasingly hi-tech field of cultural materials conservation is supported by state-of-the-art laboratories to enable future generations of specialist art conservators.
2017 - Professor Robyn Sloggett becomes the Inaugural Cripps Foundation Chair.
2019 - Management of Commercial Services was transferred back to the Faculty of Arts.
Today, the Grimwade Centre:
- receives a large number of ARC (Australian Research Council) grants engaging research partners from all over the world.
- remains the only provider of comprehensive postgraduate conservation training in the Asia-Pacific region, delivering teaching to over 90 enrolled Masters students and 25 PhD researchers.
- is one of the largest providers of conservation services in Australia and the only provider of University research translation and commercial partnership services in the world.