Scottish exhibition set to be the gallery’s biggest ever

THE Art Gallery of Ballarat’s biggest ever exhibition For Auld Lang Syne is on track to land more than 20,000 visitors by the time it wraps up on July 27, gallery director Gordon Morrison  says.

Romance: Art Gallery of Ballarat director Gordon Morrison takes a closer look at The Marco Polo by Thomas Robertson, which is part of the For Auld Lang Syne exhibition. 
PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Romance: Art Gallery of Ballarat director Gordon Morrison takes a closer look at The Marco Polo by Thomas Robertson, which is part of the For Auld Lang Syne exhibition. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

The celebration of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation, launched by former prime minister Malcolm Fraser on April 10, has so far attracted about 8000 visitors, with two months remaining.

The majority have been out-of-towners, with heavy visitation from Melbourne.

Mr Morrison said the show was expected to generate between 20,000 and 22,000 tourist numbers all up, meeting forecast targets.

The ‘red room’ and its collection of grand paintings of the Highlands had been one of the standout attractions, he said, but each individual visitor had been drawn to particular 

features.

“We were hoping for between 20,000 and 25,000 and should be in that zone,” Mr Morrison

said.

“It’s a never-to-be-repeated exhibition on this particular 

theme.

“The red room and those amazing paintings is such an impressive body of artworks that really tell the story of the romance of the Highlands.”

About a fifth of visitors attended during Ballarat Heritage Weekend, when the gallery also co-presented a symposium of top-level academics interested in colonial history.

Mr Morrison said the exhibition had been a springboard for talking about the Scottish in Australia.

“We were amazed at the incredible buzz in Lydiard Street,” he

said.

“You got a sense of pride that we were really putting on a show.”

The exhibition has a 350-page catalogue featuring essays by leading scholars on aspects of the Scottish presence in 

Australia.

Mr Morrison said it was “arguably the most beautiful product” the gallery had produced, with $30,000 worth of copies already sold.

He said a major promotional event for the exhibition was planned to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24.

“It was the greatest victory of the Scots over the English in their history,” he said.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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