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Collecting History

Watercolour buildings in landscape
Event Date:

Legacy House Function Room
159 Macquarie Street
Hobart TAS 7000

Anita Hansen

The Royal Society of Tasmania started an art collection at its inception in 1843. This collection was formed in an ad hoc manner by donation, then around 1900, with federation looming the society became concerned that Tasmania’s unique character, history and identity would be swallowed up and lost in the larger Australian identity. The society then set about assembling art, writings, maps, publications, records and other ephemera to construct a collection that would build a historical record of the early days of European settlement. Among the prominent artists of the era featured in the collection are; Louisa Anne Meredith, Simpkin de Wesselow, William Charles Piguenit, John Skinner Prout and Owen Stanley. This talk will investigate the well over 900 works of the art collection which are housed at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Anita Hansen is the Honorary Curator of the Royal Society of Tasmania Art Collection. She has been an artist all her life, working in Tasmania, interstate and overseas. She holds a doctorate from the University of Tasmania (Nineteenth Century Natural History Art and Belonging in Tasmania – which investigated the collections of the major cultural institutions in Tasmania to see how and what settler societies collect to form their own history), a Master of Fine Arts (looking at the orchid illustrations of nineteenth century Tasmanian natural history illustrator William Archer), a Graduate Diploma in Plant and Wildlife Illustration and a Bachelor of Fine Art degree. Anita co-edited The Royal Society of Tasmania’s book The Library at the End of the World: Natural Science and Its Illustrators and Poles Apart: Fascination, Fame and Folly. She has published a number of journal articles, as well as curating exhibitions in Tasmania and interstate.

Image: Owen Stanley, 1840, Penal Settlement, VDL