History

Shepparton Art Museum is one of Australia’s leading art museums, located in Greater Shepparton, in the North Central corridor of Victoria.

Our purpose is to present great art to our audiences, through the development and care of collections, research, the curation of exhibitions and programs, the growth of digital strategies, and by playing a leading role within a thriving arts and cultural sector in Greater Shepparton.

SAM presents outstanding art in Shepparton, and contributes to the cultural enrichment, community engagement and economic prosperity of the region. Our vision is for a thriving visual arts community in which SAM plays a key role, and where it is celebrated for exciting exhibitions and programs, as part of a prosperous, resilient Greater Shepparton.

A significant aspect of SAM’s work is the biennial Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award and the national Indigenous Ceramic Award.

Building

The new SAM building is an outstanding example of exciting, best-practice contemporary museum architecture, designed by one of Australia’s leading architects on the remarkable Victoria Park Lake, Shepparton, in regional Victoria. Designed by internationally renowned architects Denton Corker Marshall, the SAM is a five-storey building housing the Museum, Visitor Centre, and the Kaiela Art Gallery and Studio. The 5,300m2 building also houses a café and event space, with a roof top viewing deck.

A 33m x 33m cube-like form, the new Museum is located on the south-eastern corner of Victoria Park Lake to maximise SAM’s greatest asset, the park setting, and is due for completion in 2020.

Four L-shaped plates, each of different heights, make up the building’s façade. Each plate is of a different metallic finish; low sheen zinc to the southern approach; matt soft charcoal above the entry to SAM on Wyndham Street; metallic mid-grey facing the park; and rich ochre-red corten steel facing the lake and river plain.

History

Shepparton Art Museum’s collection was established in 1936 with a fifty-pound grant from the Victorian State Government.

Sir John Longstaff and Robert D. Elliot were instrumental in securing initial money to fund the collection and Longstaff became advisor to the Shepparton City Council on acquisitions. By 1949 the collection totalled 37 works and was displayed in the Town Hall. The collection policy of the time aimed to secure a historical selection of Australian Art with a few European paintings.

By 1960 the collection was one of the few left in regional Victoria that lacked a purpose built gallery. With the redevelopment of the Civic Centre in 1965, a gallery was incorporated. Significant changes took place in the 1970s with ceramics becoming the focus of the collection and collecting policy. The creation of the Victorian State Government Ministry for the Arts in 1972 saw an increase in funding to Shepparton Art Gallery, that assisted in growing the collection, which currently houses over 4000 works of art.

In 2011, approval was granted by Greater Shepparton City Council to rebrand Shepparton Art Gallery to Shepparton Art Museum, or SAM.

In 2013, a SAM Foundation was established to raise money for a new, expanded SAM, and for the growth of the art collection. In response to a generous offer shortly after from Carrillo Gantner to donate $2m of Aboriginal art to the Shepparton Art Museum (should it be upgraded to accommodate it), and a pledge of $1.5m over 10 years from the Copulos Family, Greater Shepparton City Council committed funds towards a feasibility study for a new art museum.

In 2015, Council voted to accept the findings of the feasibility study and move forward with designs for a new art museum building at Victoria Park Lake.

The new building began construction in early 2019, and is due for completion in 2020.

SAM’s collecting activities continue to focus on acquiring Australian ceramics and contemporary art, with major works acquired through the biennial Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramics Award, and Indigenous Ceramic Award, respectively.