State of Victoria Gold Jewellery Collection shines at Museums Victoria

From Gold Rush to Contemporary Design: A Dazzling Archive of Over a Century 

Selected pieces from the State of Victoria Gold Jewellery Collection, including (in focus) a gold nugget bangle made in Melbourne circa 1870. Photo by Eugene Hyland. Source: Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria proudly announces its latest acquisition - the State of Victoria Gold Jewellery Collection, now standing as one of the most significant public collections of Victorian goldfields jewellery. This newly obtained collection, consisting of nearly 400 pieces sourced and smithed from across the state, offers a glittering panorama of over 100 years of pivotal moments in Victorian history. A pop-up showcasing key pieces of the collection, Gold, Glitz and Grit, opens at Melbourne Museum today. 

Interwoven with stories of everyday life, the collection narrates tales of migration, the gold rush, colonisation, federation, WWI and WWII, fashion evolution, the Great Depression, the women’s suffrage movement, industrial strides, and the profound influence of the Australian environment. It's not merely a display of exquisite pieces; it's a living archive, reflecting the pulse of Victoria across diverse eras. 

From the bustling metropolis of Melbourne to regional hubs like Ballarat, Geelong, Sale, Bendigo, Beechworth and Wangaratta, and smaller towns like Jeparit, Daylesford, and Woorak, the collection spans the geographical breadth of Victoria. Each artefact, whether humble or grand, carries with it a rich narrative, embodying the traditions and styles of different localities. 

Gold played a pivotal role in the development of Victoria, attracting people, ideas, and new skills to the State. The famous gold rush of the 1850s brought thousands of prospectors from across the country and around the world, seeking to make their fortune as part of the economic boom. The new collection acknowledges the positive contributions of gold while inviting in-depth discussion about its impacts on Victoria’s First Nations people, migrant communities, and the environment. 

Museums Victoria CEO and Director Lynley Croswell emphasises the diverse narratives of the collection, highlighting the link between the Victoria Gold Jewellery Collection and the work of the museums more broadly. 

’The collection is extraordinarily rich and beautiful, but it is the diversity, depth and nuance of the stories the pieces represent of this period in our history that are especially compelling. Stories of people, places, events, discoveries, moments - the collection is in many ways emblematic of the scope of our work, and naturally complements and enhances our State Collection.’ 

This acquisition not only adds a dazzling display to Museums Victoria's existing collection but also serves as a catalyst for extensive research projects, exhibitions, publications, and educational programs. The State of Victoria Gold Jewellery Collection is poised to captivate audiences globally, its stories resonating far beyond Victoria's borders. 

Gold, Glitz and Grit opens today, offering visitors to Melbourne Museum a sneak peek into the grandeur of the collection, featuring 15 carefully curated pieces. Focused on goldfields jewellery, the experience provides a unique opportunity to witness the splendour of the newly acquired State of Victoria Gold Jewellery Collection, with plans for a more comprehensive exhibition of the collection underway.  

The acquisition and public display of the State of Victoria Gold Jewellery Collection marks a significant milestone in the preservation and sharing of Victoria's rich cultural heritage. 

For further information, please visit the Melbourne Museum website. 

Gold, Glitz and Grit 

Open: 7 October, 2023 

Location: Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street Carlton   

Tickets: Free with Melbourne Museum entry  


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Media and Communications Team
Museums Victoria
[email protected]
0466 622 621

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