Full Record

The Art Gallery Formal opening ceremony Performed by His Ecellency the Governor A brilliant assembly Some inspiriting speeches A great social gathering
Record no:
26 June 1908
Kept:Press clippings book 2, p. 61





The new Art Gallery, a full description of which, together with its

chequered history, appeared in the “West Australian” of Wednesday last,
was formally opened last evening by His Excellency the Governor (Admiral
Sir Frederick Bedford, G.C.B.) in the presence of a brilliant assemblage.
Among others in attendance were Lady Bedford and Miss Bedford and suite,
the Premier (Mr. N. J. Moore, M.L.A.), the Colonial Treasurer (Mr. Frank
Wilson, M.L.A.), the Attorney General (Mr. N. Keenan, M.L.A.), the
Minister for Works (Mr. J. Price M.L.A.), the Colonial Secretary (Mr. J.
D. Connolly, M.L.C.), the Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Jas. Mitchell,
M.L.A.), the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly (Mr. T. F. Quinlan), the
President of the Legislative Council (Mr. Hy. Briggs), and many members of
both Houses of Parliament ; Sir John and Lady Forrest, Dean Latham, the
Rabbi (Mr. D. I. Freedman), the Mayor (Mr. T. G. Molloy), and members of
the City Council, Sir Whateley Eliot, and many other representative

The 400 guests were received in the sculpture gallery by the president of
the committee (Dr. J. W. Hackett, M.L.C.) and Mrs. Hackett. At 9 o’clock
the company moved up to the first floor landing in the entrance hall in
readiness for the formal ceremony.

The Director of the Museum and Art Gallery (Mr. Bernard H. Woodward)
formally introduced the president to His Excellency the Governor,
remarking that this was the sixth occasion on which, during his nineteen
years’ connection with the institution, he had received representatives of

Dr. Hackett asked His Excellency to declare the new Gallery open. He would
say, at the outset, that he rejoiced that the opportunity of opening the
new Gallery had been given to His Excellency, who had been so true and
strong a friend of every movement for the promotion of art, and of the Art
Gallery in particular. Still more was he pleased that it should fall to
the lot of His Excellency to relieve the State from two great reproaches.
In the first place, they had resting upon them an obligation to redeem a
violated pledge. When His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was on a
visit to this State and laid the foundation stone of the new Gallery, it
was with the complete assurance that the work would be carried through
without delay to its completion. Unfortunately, for reasons which he (the
president) was not acquainted with, it had been thought fit that they
should break their promise to His Royal Highness. Now, however, they were
thankful to redeem that pledge and to testify that Western Australia had
only faltered in her duty, and that the time was now come when she would
not only redeem her promise, but would add to the educational system of
Western Australia, and, except for the university, fill up the last great
gap which remained in that system. Secondly, the obligation rested upon
their educational consciences to see that fair play was given to the
people of this State. It was impossible that they could hold their own
when the appliances and advantages were so much more in the ascendant in
the sister States than in their own. Above all it seemed incumbent upon
them that [they should] an equality of opportunity to[?] [?] [boys] and
girls to those whom ambition led in the direction of art, who were
conscious of great talents totally neglected, simply because there were
not the means and appliances in Western Australia to supply them with what
they desired. This Gallery which they were asking his Excellency to open
was, he believed one which would hold its own, as far as the building
went, with any in Australia. He was not going to weary them with figures,
but he wished to point out that even before this Gallery was erected some
endeavour was made by the State to live up to its art duties—to give the
people some opportunity of becoming acquainted with the refining,
softening, and educative influences which were associated always with art
love and art study. He wanted to point out that the art collections in the
adjoining room comprised 71 original oil-paintings of more or less merit.
He thought they would find the bulk of them compared favourably with the
average in the Australian States. There were also 23 water-colours, two
pastels, and a large number of reproductions in colour and specimens of
drawing, black and white, prints and etchings. In all £12,600 had been
spent in acquiring that collection, in addition to which £1,500 worth of
sculpture had been secured. Thus they would see that the sacred fire had
been burning, however dimly, in Western Australia, awaiting only the
opportunity to leap up into living flame. The total attendance of visitors
from the beginning—true, they had been chiefly to the Museum, but the
pictures the committee had been able to display must be held responsible
for at least part of the attraction—numbered 800,000 persons, of which
156,000 had been recorded last year. The principal schools were
represented in the Gallery. They had specimens, and good specimens, of the
Italian, Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and the English. He was
not going to intervene between those present and the several gentlemen who
had kindly promised to address them, but before he abandoned his place he
wished to express the deep gratitude of the committee of the National Art
Gallery, in the first place, to members of the Ministry—to Mr. Moore, who
had been with them all along, heart and soul ; to Mr. Wilson, who they
would never forget as being the first Treasurer to put a sufficient sum of
money on the Estimates with a determination that when the time came round
to spend it, it should not be returned to the Treasury ; thirdly, to Mr.
Price, for his unfailing care and assistance. One other whom he wanted to
thank was His Excellency the Governor. (Applause.) He wished to thank him
for the ready and unfailing interest he had taken in the work of the
committee and the encouragement he had invariably given them from the time
he had first set step upon these shores. He wanted to thank the members on
both sides of the House in the Legislative Assembly—members who, with very
few exceptions, recognised the greatness of the work the committee were
engaged in ; who recognised that art belonged to civilisation and was a
sign itself of the civilisation to which nations had attained, and who
were determined that there should be some suitable building suitably
established in this State, which should be the nursing home of the young
artists of the future. With His Excellency’s permission he would call upon
the Premier to support him in his request. In conclusion, he thanked them
all for having attended that evening, on the occasion of the opening of
the National Art Gallery of Western Australia.

The Premier said he had great pleasure in supporting the request. In view of the fact that His Excellency had taken great interest in every movement which had for its object the educational betterment of the people, it was particularly fitting, he said, that he should perform the ceremony of opening the Art Gallery—a ceremony which for many years had been looked forward to by the committee. The event would be a very auspicious one in the history of that institution As the president had pointed out, the foundation-stone was laid by His Royal Highness in 1901 in the presence of a large assembly of people, to the accompaniments of brass bands and flags flying. But, unfortunately, nothing further had been done, and for a number of years the stone had been left as a monument to an unredeemed pledge. It was very pleasing to his Government that it should have fallen to them to redeem the pledge by getting the consent of parliament to the expenditure of £10,000 in the erection of that building. (Applause.) While the Government recognised that it was their duty to attend to the material wants of the people, they recognised also that it was their duty to support any movement having for its object the higher education of the people ; and they felt that in supporting any such movement they had the endorsement of Parliament and of the people generally. (Applause.) On looking at the records he had found that £100,000 had been expended on the Museum and Art Gallery in construction and maintenance, while, as the president had pointed out, little short of a million persons had passed through its doors to inspect its exhibits. As evidence of the interest taken in art, it was significant to know that during the time that Holman Hunt’s great picture, “The Light of the World,” had been on exhibition in the Museum building 157,000 people had inspected it. It went to show that art had its devotees among all classes of the community. On an occasion such as the present, when one was surrounded by a collection of art and one recognised that he was not a connoiseur [sic] in these matters, while His Excellency and others were sound critics of art, he would not presume to dilate at length upon the adornments of the walls. However, the true educational value of this institution would lie in the opportunities it would afford to the students of viewing specimens of art which would elevate them to a full appreciation of the divine principles of true art. In this State, notwithstanding the stress and turmoil incidental to life in a new country, many people were prepared to [?] considerable portions of the [?] the study of arts and sciences. [Thus] among the various art societies in the metropolitan and goldfields districts were 150 members—evidence that some amongst the community recognised the advantage of taking an interest in such matters. At the Perth and Fremantle Technical Schools there were 100 students who, quite apart from private and State school teachers, were devoting their spare time to arts and crafts. Moreover, there were between 40 and 50 private teachers of painting and drawing in Perth alone. Although the Technical Schools provided full equipment for art study, students at these schools would now have the opportunity of attending the Art Gallery ; and he was sure that the visits made by these students for the purpose of serious art study would tend to develop a higher standard of art throughout the State. (Applause.) The general tone and tendency of the Gallery should be to uplift the people of the State and to create a body of true artists within the State’s borders. He congratulated the committee on the additional space afforded by this new building in which they could exhibit works of art hitherto crowded away in the musty corridors of the old gaol building. He wanted to say that the people generally appreciated very much the work of the committee. The interest the president had taken in this and other matters having for their object the improvement of social and educational life was of such a character as would ensure his name being handed down to posterity as one of the few public men prepared to give up time and substance to assist the State to get into line with the rapid advance of modern educational facilities. (Applause.)

Sir John Forrest, referred to by the president as the “founder of the
Museum,” spoke of the difficulties with which the movement had been beset
in the past. He remembered well the early struggles the old members of the
committee had had in the commencement of the institution which they were
seeing consummated that night. At the time of Her late Majesty’s Jubilee
the stone was laid with great pomp on the present site of the Technical
School, and from there it was transferred to its present position, where
it was again laid by His Royal Highness. He did not think the State was
open to a charge of not having kept faith. They had merely delayed a
little. (Laughter.) They very much regretted that the delay had taken
place. Still they had always intended that the land should be used for the
purpose for which it had seen set apart by his Government, viz., for
Library, Art Gallery, and Museum. Heartfelt thanks were due to those who
were on the committee at that time. Sir James Lee Steere had been
chairman. Mr. Canning was one of the committee from the first. Then there
was the president of to-day, indefatigable then as now. There was Sir
George Shenton, and many others who took a great interest in promoting an
extension of the Library and the Museum and the Art Gallery. Mr. Woodward
and Mr. Battye were not to be forgotten, for to them was to be given a
great deal of the credit. He had done something towards it as Premier, and
now Mr. Moore had done something. But he hoped they had not finished yet.
The Library was the next thing they should take in hand in order that they
might have something creditable to Western Australia. (Applause.) It was
gratifying that in these early days of the country, when there was so much
to be done of a material nature and there were so many demands upon the
Treasury, they should be able to do something in the direction spoken of
that night. They should try to do something beyond laying bricks and
mortar and doing those things which were absolutely required. They should
do something to elevate the public mind and to let the people have some of
the advantages enjoyed by all civilised communities. It was not easy. They
were a small community, but still, if they did some of those things to
which the president and the Premier had referred, they would not be
altogether unworthy. They should try and encourage the faculty of
observation by the study of Nature, for art and Nature went together, the
only difference being that while art was sometimes faulty, Nature was
never at fault. The tendency of this study was to awaken people to a sense
of how little they really knew. There was nothing in this world they ought
to try and cultivate more than this realisation of how little was the best
of their knowledge. The more they studied Nature and art the more
reasonable a view would they take of their own littleness in the great
scheme of creation, and with this would come a greater appreciation of the
work of the Creator. He had never forgotten the sentiments of Sir Isaac
Newton, who had compared himself to a boy gathering shells on the
seashore, here and there admiring one, while the great ocean lay
undiscovered. He concluded with an expression of the conviction that the
Art Gallery would do a great deal of good. He wished the committee every
success, and he predicted that His Excellency in his remarks would say
something for their good.

His Excellency, who was cordially received, said that it was not usual
before a sermon was preached for someone to rise and say what a good one
it was going to be. Yet that was what Sir John Forrest had done. He had
led them to believe that he (His Excellency) was going to say something to
do them good, but for his part he took it for granted that they were all
so good that nothing he could say would improve them. (Laughter.) He was
particularly pleased that it had fallen to his lot to open that gallery.
He was sure the Prince, who had laid the foundation stone, would be very
pleased also when he received a cable which he (His Excellency) would send
him announcing that the gallery had been opened. (Applause.) A few months
ago he had had the honour of an interview, and had shown His Royal
Highness a drawing of the outside of the building which His Royal Highness
had been pleased to accept. The Prince had evinced the greatest interest
in the work, and he would be delighted to think that at last that monument
of his had been covered up except for the front, which would remain open
to the public gaze. (Laughter.) His Excellency said that he wanted to
congratulate two people in particular upon the establishment of the new
building viz., Dr. Hackett and Mr Woodward. They all knew how hard Dr.
Hackett had worked in the cause of this sort of institution, and he was
sure that it was very much owing to his presence in the Upper
Chamber—which His Excellency understood had nothing to do with money
matters—that they had got the money with which to erect the building.
Probably if they had waited until this year they would not have got it at
all, owing to the demands which had been made upon the Treasury. However,
they had got it, and that was the great thing. (Laughter.) Than Mr.
Woodward nobody, he was sure, could be more pleased with the completion of
the building. He had never come across a more indefatigable worker. Coming
into the gallery the other day he had found Mr. Woodward, notwithstanding
that he was suffering from a severe cold, so busy hanging pictures as to
give rise to fears that he would go off his head and hang himself.
(Laughter.) He endorsed the remarks made as to the educational advantages
of the gallery. The history of painters, he said, showed numerous
instances of men born in lowly stations among uncongenial surroundings,
who, nevertheless, had reached great eminence in painting and sculpture.
That was always encouraging to the young, and he hoped that this gallery,
which would give opportunities for them to come in and inspect exceedingly
good examples of oil-paintings, water-colours, black and white, and
designing and statuary would be the means of bringing to light such latent
talent as might exist. In the sculpture gallery were copies of the most
famous statues that could be obtained, and for this the State had largely
to thank Dr. Hackett. (Applause.) There were numerous other people in the
State who had donated pictures and casts, but he could not then enumerate
them. What he did know was that quite recently Dr. Hackett had presented
to the gallery a considerable number of casts of the best sculptures, and
also one or two valuable pictures. Sir George Shenton had presented a
couple of nice pictures and so had—lots of other people. (Laughter.) Now
that they had got the gallery the thing to do was to make the best in
Australia. He considered it a great honour that he should have been called
upon to open the gallery. It was a great object lesson, illustrating the
truth of the old proverb that if they waited long enough they would get
everything they wanted. He could now quite believe that if he were to
remain in this State a sufficient length of time he would see the Town
Hall built and possibly the Houses of Parliament completed. (Loud laughter.)

The president then handed His Excellency a golden key, which His
Excellency said he would treasure as a souvenir of a most interesting
occasion. Having turned on the lights and opened the door, His Excellency
formally declared the gallery open to the public.

After an inspection of the pictures in the gallery the guests were
entertained at supper in the lecture hall of the Museum.


(By “Adrienne.”)

The most brilliant function held in Perth for very many years took place
last evening, at the Western Australian Museum and Art Gallery, when the
president and Mrs. Hackett entertained a great number of guests, on the
occasion of the opening of the new Art Gallery by His Excellency the
Governor, Sir Frederick D. Bedford, G.C.B.  Dr. and Mrs. Hackett received
their guests at the entrance to the statuary gallery, where the guests
were delighted to see so many exquisite casts, many of them recognising
with the greatest pleasure old favourites from the Vatican and the Capitol
at Rome and from the Louvre in Paris. The residents of Perth must feel
that they owe a very deep debt of gratitude to Dr. Hackett and others who
interested themselves in securing for Western Australia this new Art
Gallery, with its valuable and exquisite contents. From an educational
point of view they have rendered the State very great assistance indeed.
After His Excellency the Governor had opened the door of the Picture
Gallery with a golden key, presented to him, the assemblage entered the
Gallery and spent some time in admiring the paintings, and the greatest
admiration was expressed on all sides. A great many beautiful dresses were
worn by those present. Lady Bedford wore a handsome gown of gold and
crimson floral brocade, with a beautiful point lace bertha, exquisite
diamond necklace and tiarra [sic], and carried a lovely bouquet of shaded
roses, carnations, and ferns, with knots of pink ribbon, presented to her
by Mrs. Hackett. Mrs. Hackett wore a perfectly exquisite dress, composed
of beautiful cream Limerick lace over a delicate shade of green chiffon,
showing an underskirt of gold-tinselled chiffon over cream satin, the
lovely Limerick lace overdress having finishings of delicate gold thread
embroidery. She carried a charming bouquet of roses, carnations, ferns,
and most effective leaves in Autumn tints, and wore a most becoming gold
band in her hair. Miss Bedford, cream shivering brocade, with silver lace
fichu and touches of green silk. Lady Forrest, handsome dress of black
velvet, with point lace bertha and beautiful diamond necklace and tiarra
[sic]. Lady Stone, black spotted net over glace, with touches of mauve.
Mrs. Bold, scarlet radium silk, with Maltese lace bertha. Mrs. Richard
Sholl, cream lace overdress over mauve silk, with touches of violet velvet
and violet in hair. Mrs. Matthews, black chiffon over glace, with
effective touches of wallflower velvet. Mrs. Conigrave, black net over
silk and velvet. Mrs. Newton, cream floral brocade, with suggestions of
pink. Miss Hayes, white chiffon over silk and lace. Mrs. Domela, black
sequin net over glace, with chiffon finishings. Mrs. Allan, black silk,
with spangled jet and touches of pink. Mrs. Price, striking gown of reseda
green chiffon glace, trimmings of cream net, and gold bob trimmings, scarf
of fishermen’s net in gold tissue. Mrs. Ewing, black crepe de Chine, white
lace bertha. Mrs. S. H. Parker, black ninon over pale blue glace, black
lace finishings. Miss Parker, silver-grey crepe de chine, with cream lace
and touches of white spangled net. Mrs. Battye, mauve crepe de chine,
trimmings of pansy velvet. Mrs. Latham, black spotted silk, with touches
of pale blue and lovely cream lace bertha. Mrs. Franklin, black glace
gown. Mrs. Connolly, poppy-red silk and cream lace, red flowers in hair.
Mrs. Makeham, black chiffon glace. Mrs. E. A. Le Souef, cream chiffon
glace and lace. Mrs. O. Burt, black silk, with cream lace and touches of
black velvet. Mrs. Christie, black sequin net over glace. Mrs. Aubrey
Brown, black satin and cream lace. Mrs. Fred Monger, black sequin net over
glace, with scarlet geraniums on corsage and in hair. Mrs. W. J. George,
black silk, with cream lace. Miss Rosie Miller, pale blue chiffon glace,
with cream lace. Miss Percy, black silk, with gold passementerie, pink
camellia in corsage. Mrs. Cooke, black spotted net over white glace, black
sash. Mrs. Kelsall, blue chiffon taffeta, with Paris lace trimmings. Mrs.
Alfred Burt, scrolled black net overdress over glace, bodice made with
kimono effect, and finishings of sequin net. Mrs. Fairbairn, black satin,
with cream lace sleeves and bertha. Mrs. Muir, black silk, with sequin
trimmings Mrs. Drummond, black silk, relieved with white chiffon. Mrs.
Alec Monger, black ninon over glace, with black sequin finishings. Mrs.
Hampton, black crepe-de-chine. Miss Timperley, black silk, with cream lace
bertha. Mrs. Isidore Emmanuel, lovely dress of white net, lace applique
over white glace, trimmings of exquisite lace and touches of silver
tissue. Mrs. Fergusson Stewart, cream chiffon taffeta, made with empire
effect and cream lace, blue flowers in corsage and hair. Mrs. N. Keennan,
striking gown of lettuce-screened silk, with effective coatee of lovely
white lace. Mrs. Jull, black silk, with lace. Mrs. Atkins, floral chiffon,
with pink glace finishings. Miss Rosser, dainty empire gown of chiffon
taffeta and cream lace. Mrs. Harvey, cream brocade, with touches of black
velvet and cream lace. Mrs. Robert Sholl, black sequin net over glace.
Mrs. Beasley, black chiffon over white glace, Maltese lace bertha. Miss
Wilson, pale blue silk, with Oriental trimming. Mrs. Faulkner, black silk,
with touches of gold velvet. Mrs. Butcher, black chiffon glace with cream
Valenciennes lace. Miss Yelverton, pink silk, with touches of black
velvet. Mrs. Munro, smart empire gown in blue floral Oriental satin,
silver-spangled net trimming, with fuchsias in hair. Mrs. Whalen, hand-
painted chiffon over glace, pink flowers in hair. Miss A. Moore, pale pink
radium silk, with cream lace. Mrs. J. Cowan, black silk, with cream lace.
Mrs. G. Lukin, pale green eolienne, with Paris lace finishings. Mrs.
Leonard Darlot, exquisite empire gown, composed of black ninon over silver-
grey glace, black lace sleeves, and effective silver belt, black velvet
band in hair. Mrs. Cox, cream chiffon glace, with cream lace. Mrs.
Thurstan, blue spotted eolienne, with touches of black velvet, pink roses
in hair. Miss Lovegrove, white silk, with insertion, red sash, pink rose
in corsage. Mrs. England, mauve silk, with cream lace finishings. Mrs.
Gibbs, cream silk empire gown, appliqued with silk panel of lovely cream
lace. Miss Gibbs, white spotted net over pale blue glace. Mrs. C. Sommers,
black and white silk dress, with cream lace finishings. Miss Sommers,
pretty white silk dress, with Valenciennes lace. Mrs. Tratman, black silk,
gold-beaded coatee. Mrs. M. C. Davies, black silk, with trimmings of gold
passementerie on bodice. Mrs. Toppin, black chiffon glace, with sequin
net, lovely cream lace scarf. Mrs. Gibb Maitland, black silk, with
chiffon, red roses in corsage. Mrs. Frank Connor, black silk, with chiffon
trimmings. Mrs. W. D. Moore, handsome green brocade. Miss Bayfield, black
chiffon over white silk, with black lace. Mrs. Lovegrove, black silk with
cream chiffon and black sequin trimming. Mrs. G. Johnson, cream floral
chiffon with touches of moss-green velvet. Mrs. C. L. Oldham, soft black
silk, with silver-spangled lace. Mrs. J. M. Ferguson, black chiffon glace,
with black chiffon and sequin trimming. Mrs. Wm. Patterson, black satin,
with cream lace. Miss Viotti Pearce, cream net, with silver-tinselled
stripe over glace. Miss Sherwood, blue chiffon glace with gold and cream
applique. Mrs. Herbert Davies, soft black silk, with cream chiffon and
lace, and touches of black velvet. Miss Quinlan, cream chiffon taffeta
with finishings of cream satin and ruched bebe ribbon. Miss F. Davies,
buttercup Oriental satin, with cream lace and gold tassels. T. W.
Hardwick, black chiffon glace, with cream chiffon and black lace. Mrs.
Harry Brown, shell-pink chiffon taffeta, with touches of velvet in the
same shade, and finishings with cream spotted net. Mrs. A. G. Jenkins,
smart gown of ivory satin, trimmings of cream lace. Mrs. J. G. Foulkes,
black chiffon over glace, with black sequin trimmings. Mrs. Cecil Andrews,
black silk, with cream spangled lace bertha. Miss Lee Steere, black
figured satin, with gold sequin finishings, scarlet poppies in corsage.
Mrs. J. B. Percy, handsome black silk dress with white Bruges lace bertha.

After the guests had taken a very hurried glance at some of the pictures
an adjournment was made to the supper-room, where a most delicious repast
was partaken of. The table decorations were artistically carried out with
specimen vases of mauve water lilies and chrysanthemums in the same shade,
and cosmos in delicate shades of pink and light feathery ferns.
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