The changing face of the Gallery Society


After thirty-three years of providing support for the National Gallery and of servicing the twenty thousand or so citizens who have been or still are subscribers to the oldest Gallery Society in Australia, many changes have taken place.

The social and economic trends which have developed in society generally have been reflected in the Gallery Society itself. The social gatherings and musical soirees which were so much part of the Society’s scene in the 1950s and 60s at the Swanston Street Gallery are now affairs of the past, although still enjoyed in retrospect by those who recall them. A larger and perhaps less personal Gallery, the growth of a more widely informed community, increased leisure time, expanded perimeters of ‘the Arts’ and more readily available access to them, have all contributed to our ever-growing membership. This, in turn, has called for a fuller programme, and the diversity of interests has created groups with their own specific requirements for the enjoyment of the arts.

Ten years ago the ratio of family memberships to ordinary memberships was 2:3. Today the number of subscribers in each group is almost the same. Among the family memberships is an increasing number of younger families. We are conscious that this alone requires fresh thought in order to provide the entertainment they look for, and to maintain their interest in the Gallery in the years ahead. Children and their parents thus form one group that is given special consideration.

A Younger Members group has always existed within the Society. Over the past eight years or so this group has tended to remain together, gathering new members from among its contemporaries with every function it holds.

The incipient ‘generation gap’ between the children and the Younger Members has recently been bridged by the formation of the ‘Under 25s’, a group of juniors who understand the needs of their own age group, are familiar with the financial and other constraints which affect today’s students, and make their own programmes accordingly.

In this way, the Society seeks to remain a permanent factor in a world of change, servicing the needs of its members as these needs vary, both within the time-span of individual membership and in line with developing community attitudes and interests.

The Society believes it has made a positive contribution to the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts by the people of Victoria, both as a support for the National Gallery and as a link with the community, and is confident of the success of its endeavours in the future.