Cover image of the review
Installation view of Hana Earles, *The Wish Academy*, Carlton.

The Museological Consciousness

30 Mar 2019
The Wish Academy, 14 Mar - 14 Mar 2019 ENTER, 16 Mar - 21 Jul 2019

In recent years, a new subculture has surfaced in Australian art. It lacks any aspiration to be recognised by mainstream public art institutions and has formed a self-conscious avant-garde with “arm's-length” distance (sometimes literally) from major museums like Tony Ellwood's National Gallery of Victoria. The latest expression of this subculture is the freshly minted $15.8 million Lyon Housemuseum Galleries. Situated in the leafy electorate of Kooyong, Lyon Housemuseum Galleries (a more public expansion of the old Lyon Housemuseum) is the newest member of a nascent scene of private Australian art museums that includes, amongst others, the $20 million Buxton Contemporary (which at least has private origins), the $75 million Museum of New and Old Art and the more modest Justin Art House Museum.

Lyon Housemuseum Galleries represents a coming of age in Melbourne of the democratic civil society already evident in Europe and the USA for many years. This civil society can be seen in private museums such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, the John Soane Museum, London, and the Frick Collection in New York, all of which the Lyon Housemuseum explicitly cites as inspiration. But it strikes a particular note in Melbourne when one considers that alongside this subculture is another subculture. It is also anti-aspirational (at least in style) and characterised by an avant-gardist independence from major public art institutions. Its latest expression is Meow, an $800 per month sharehouse in the equally leafy suburb of Carlton, the long-time heartland of Melbourne's intelligentsia. Meow is co-directed by Calum Lockey, Brennan Olver and the fast-rising artist Hana Earles (undeniably Meow’s public face) and hosts one-night exhibitions every month or so.

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