Vali Myers in her studio in the Nicholas Building

Vali Myers in her studio in the Nicholas Building, Liz Ham, 1997, State Library Victoria

We will explore the counter-cultural and creative identity of Melbourne in our upcoming exhibition Bohemian Melbourne this summer.

Opening on 12 December, the exhibition will weave the story of Melbourne’s bohemian scenes, subcultures and identities from the mid-19th century until today. The exhibition celebrates artists, writers, poets, performers, musicians and filmmakers who have made their mark over the last 150 years including the likes of Marcus Clarke, Albert Tucker, Vali Myers, Barry Humphries, Mirka Mora and Nick Cave.

Along with individuals, the exhibition delves into places that have etched themselves into Melbourne’s history such as Heide, Montsalvat, the Savage Club, La Mama, the Pram Factory, the Crystal Ballroom and the Nicholas Building.

Barry Humphries

Barry Humphries, Mark Strizic, 1969, State Library Victoria, Copyright estate of the artist

Bohemian Melbourne brings together paintings, photographs, prints, books, diaries, letters, costumes, posters and album covers along with a diverse selection of rarely seen film and video. The exhibition has been curated by the State Library of Victoria with advisor Tony Moore, Monash University historian and author of Dancing with empty pockets: Australia’s bohemians.

Discussing the exhibition, curator Clare Williamson said, ‘Every generation feels nostalgic about its own unique bohemian legacy, but this exhibition shows how the spirit of bohemianism has endured through 150 years of Melbourne’s history.’

Breakfast at Heide

Breakfast at Heide, 1945, State Library Victoria

The exhibition will be accompanied by a summer program of live music, film screenings, art workshops, walking tours, talks and pop-up performances. Check out our website listing for more details.


Bohemian Melbourne

12 December 2014 – 22 February 2015


Keith Murdoch Gallery, State Library of Victoria


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