• ART CURATION

The Power Institute

Francesca Fox, MA (Art Curating) student

Sorting through information from 50 years of Power lectures; in the background is J.W. Power's 'Nature Morte' (1927) from the Power Bequest. Photograph courtesy of Mark Ledbury.

The internship programs of Museum and Heritage Studies and Art Curating usually take place in external sector organisations, yet sometimes occur closer by, at the University. This rich investigative internship for Francesca Fox from Art Curating was as close by as the Power Institute, which is integrally linked to our Department of Art History. Guided principally by Susan Thomas, with expertise in the Institute's records, and Mark Ledbury, Director of the Institute and Power Professor of Art History and Visual Culture, Francesca is bringing the Institute's history back into clearer view and, in the process, another cross-University connection has been made – Power Institute to University Archives. Jane Johnston, Placement Officer

Founded on the 1962 bequest of artist and collector John Joseph Wardell Power, the Power Institute is a leading institution for ideas and theories in visual art and culture through publishing and public programming. As an intern, I have been tasked with exploring and documenting several boxes of archive material from the Institute’s history. I examine the contents of each folder of archive documents, and then make notes on them in a cataloguing program, such as on the types of documents and the people mentioned, then relabel each folder and box to make the archive more accessible for future use.


These folders are a treasure trove of historical events. For example, a little-known fact about the Power Institute is that it was the basis of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, originally intended to be the Power Gallery of Contemporary Art. I have found many documents, faxes and letters about the planning of the gallery, and how the venue and curatorial staff were decided. I have also found flyers and documentation about events and lectures involving international and interstate scholars, and artwork acquisitions, as well as early exhibition catalogues which feature works from the Power Collection that are currently on display at the Chau Chak Wing Museum.


Toward the end of the internship, I plan to submit a proposal to the University of Sydney Archives to demonstrate the significance of the Power Institute archive to the University, and to curate a small display within the RC Mills Building about an aspect of the archive that I am yet to decide – there are so many topics to choose from!

Through this internship, I have already gained invaluable skills in cataloguing and archiving, as well as in document research and analysis. Special mention should be made to Professor

Mark Ledbury, Director, and Susan Thomas, Administration & Records, my supervisors at the Power institute, as well as to Nick Keyzer and Tony Green as Librarians of the Schaeffer Fine Arts Library for all their help over these past months.

 

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