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This timeline is an introduction to the rich history of arts and cultural activities of the region that led to the Murray Art Museum Albury as it is known today.


Albury Art Prize Established. Eager to invest in arts and culture, Albury City Council offered 75 pounds towards a new acquisitive art prize. One of the oldest municipal art prizes in the NSW, the Albury Art Prize was originally more valuable than the Archibald Prize.

The Albury Art Prize was managed by the Council for the Encouragement of Music and Art (CEMA), which later became the Albury Arts Society. In 1972 the responsibility for the Prize moved to Albury City Council.

The Albury Art Prize continued for 69 years, changing form over the years to maintain relevance to the practicing artists of the time, and the priorities of the Gallery and Collection. The Prize is was retired after its final iteration in 2016.


Audray Banfield is hired as the Director of the future Albury Regional Art Gallery. Council were planning to create a public art gallery and permanent home for the growing collection, in the repurposed Albury Town Hall. The municipal offices and Council Chamber were relocated to new premises on Kiewa Street in 1976, leaving the Town Hall on Dean Street vacant. Together with architect Rob Stynes, Director Audray Banfield creatively redesigned the interior of the Town Hall for it to become the Albury Regional Art Centre, including air-conditioning, new lighting, and an internal sculpture garden. The historic façade remained untouched.

The Collection acquisition strategy is refocused on the emerging medium of photography, along with regional artists that have gained national significance. The Albury Art Prize was also adjusted to be non-acquisitive. It was at this time that Sir Russell Drysdale was identified as a key artist to collect, having lived and worked in Albury for a significant part of his creative life. The collection holds over 40 artworks by Drysdale, as well as Drysdale memorabilia. Audray Banfield continued to lead the gallery for 25 years.


Albury Regional Art Gallery Opens. The Gallery is opened in the city’s former Town Hall building, under the governance of Albury City Council, by Premier Mr Neville Wran June 29. Built in 1908, the building is inspired by late Victorian ‘wedding cake rococco’ style and offers a fitting permanent home for the City's Collection. The first Director, Audray Banfield, set the focus on the museum’s collection as photography, and regional artists with a national reputation.

Old Town Hall Facade from Dean St, 2015.
Photo Simon Dallinger.

Building Exterior_Old Town Hall Facade from Dean St, 2015. Photo Simon Dallinger. Copyright MAMA


National Photography Prize established. Following the decision to begin actively collecting contemporary photography, the first National Photographic Purchase Award was established, with Gael Newton and Helen Ennis jointly selected the work for purchase. Amongst the first works purchased were prints by Max Dupain, Mark Strizic, Richard Woldendorp and Philip Quirk.


Albury-Wodonga Regional Art Foundation Established. In 1988, the Foundation begin with a vision to establish a significant art collection for the city and to enrich the cultural life of the city. Officially launched in 1989 by the Hon. Gough Whitlam AC, the Foundation worked to encourage sponsorship and bequests to the Gallery and utilise the interest from its investments for acquisitions, conservation and major exhibitions.

Mr. L Gordon Darling AO CMG inaugurated the Foundation with a donation of $50,000. Other generous patrons including Mr. Justice J.F. Nagle AO QC and the late Dr Stan Jackling were instrumental in establishing the financial stability of the Foundation.

The Foundation has continued its important philanthropic work, actively fundraising, managing donations, gifts and bequests on behalf of the Museum. The Foundation remains the primary supporter of the biennial National Photography Prize.


John & Margaret Baker Memorial Fellowship Established. The $5000 Fellowship is offered to one emerging artist from among the field of finalists in the biennial National Photography Prize. Established by the Baker family, this Fellowship was established in memory of John & Margaret Baker, who were killed in a tragic aeroplane accident along with four friends in 1998. Margaret, assisted by her husband John, was an expert and imaginative photographer. First offered in early 2000, the Fellowship has been managed by the MAMA Art Foundation (previously Albury Regional Art Foundation). Previous recipients include Glenn Sloggett, Maylei Hunt, Melissa McVeigh, Emily Portman, Nat Ord, Ioulia Terizis, and Hayley Millar-Baker.


Susan Moorhead Memorial Award Established. Championed by Charles Sturt University Visual Arts Faculty in 2002 in memory of artist Susan Moorhead (1947-1990). The award serves to support local emerging artists in developing their practice. This award serves to honour Susan Moorhead’s life of commitment to the arts. During her short but distinguished professional life Susan was an art teacher, exhibiting artist, designer, sculptor and master crafts person.The biennial award assists local artists in the development and realisation of their professional career. The award seeks to promote conceptual intelligence and original thinking, contemporary relevance and professional execution. Since 2009 the Award has been held in trust by the MAMA Art Foundation.


Albury Regional Art Gallery closed for redevelopment.


Murray Art Museum Albury opens. On 2 October 2015 the redeveloped museum opened its doors. The new museum was led by Director Jacqui Hemsley, and experienced a bumper opening few months. The expanded facilities enabled kids programs, art classes and workshops, rooms for hire, and a busy schedule of exhibitions in the 6 – 8 gallery spaces. The museum launched with a new energy and vigour that reshaped the identity of the museum in the minds of the local community. It was now ready to embrace its vision of being the most significant arts and cultural venue in the Murray Region which ranked amongst the best cultural venues in Australia.

The first exhibition was Wiradjuri Ngurambanggu (On Wiradjuri Country) and featured the work of contemporary Indigenous artists Jonathan Jones, Brook Garru Andrew, Lorraine Connelly-Northey, Karla Dickens and Nicole Foreshew.