$1.2 million donation of artworks puts regional collection on the map

Arthur Streeton, Watsons Bay, Sydney Heads (1921, oil on drapers panel)

The New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) in Armidale has received a donation of 11 artworks by leading Australian artists which confirms its position as one of the leading regional collections of Australian art in the country.

The donation from Canberra based land-owner and arts benefactor John Gale OBE was announced by Andrew Murray, Chair of the Board at a special function at the New England Regional Art Museum on the evening of Friday 16 September attended by local donors and supporters of the museum.

The donation of eleven artworks valued at over $1.2 million includes paintings by Sir Arthur Streeton, Rupert Bunny, Elioth Gruner, Adrian Feint, JJ Hilder, Hans Heysen, Herbert Badham, Harold Septimus Power and Desiderius Orban that will complement the famous Howard Hinton Collection at the New England Regional Art Museum.

“The generosity of John Gale in donating these eleven paintings to NERAM will assist us to provide our visitors and community with quality artistic experiences,” said Robert Heather, Art Museum Director. “This donation was based upon John’s desire to see the works find a permanent home in a regional institution that will value them highly and put them on regular display.”

The Gale Donation confirms NERAM's position as holding one of the most significant art historical collections in regional Australia

“This donation builds upon the tradition of philanthropy and benefaction established by Howard Hinton OBE when he donated over 1000 artworks to the Armidale Teacher’s College between 1928- 48. These form the centrepiece of NERAM’s extraordinary collection of over 5000 works of art now valued at approximately $30 million.

“The Gale Donation confirms NERAM’s position as holding one of the most significant art historical collections in regional Australia and as a ‘must see’ tourist destination midway between Sydney and Brisbane,” said Mr Heather. “It has been the result of work by staff and supporters over a number of years who have been in contact with Mr Gale and his representatives.”

“The amazing art collections at NERAM are at the core of our program and our visitors can see exhibitions drawn from some of the best Australian art in the country and through innovative fundraising activities like our award-winning Adopt-an-Artwork program, we make sure that they are well looked after and conserved.”

“Over the past twelve months we have also been improving our facilities and services with the support of all levels of government and the local community with the aim of making our gallery more sustainable, energy efficient and a better visitor experience.“


About John Gale OBE

John Gale OBE grew up in Sydney but his love of rural life attracted him to run a family owned farm at Manila between Tamworth and Armidale in NSW. His uncles bought ‘Huntly’ a property in Stromlo in 1956 and John moved there to manage it for them before purchasing it outright in the 1970s.

Over six decades he lived there permanently and took an active interest in what was at the beginning a small and close knit Canberra cultural scene, soon emerging as a patron of the arts and a member, then life member of the National Trust ACT.

A generous and community spirited man he allowed thousands of people to experience the historic homestead and its heritage listed gardens over many years thanks to his willingness to open it as a fund-raiser for the National Trust and other charities.

His great love of music, especially opera also led his ongoing involvement with Opera Australia, including a number of years on the board of Opera Australia.

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