The International House Collection – comprising the IH archives, artworks, building fragments, furniture, decorative arts, trophies and other objects – has recently been endorsed as an official cultural collection of the University of Melbourne.
The University is the custodian of more than thirty cultural collections. These include the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne Archives, the Grainger Museum and the Medical History Museum. The collections are used in teaching, research and engagement activities.
Seeking endorsement for the International House Collection involved firstly researching and reporting on the significance of the material held. Significance is assessed using a methodology developed by the Collections Council of Australia (and used by museums, libraries and galleries nationwide). It involves evaluating collection items against four main criteria: historical significance, research significance, aesthetic significance and social significance. The resultant significance assessment report was considered by the University’s Cultural Collections Advisory Group, and the IH Collection endorsed at the group’s first meeting in 2017. Benefits of endorsement include a raised profile for IH and its collections, as well as opportunities to apply for grants to help manage and maintain the collection.
The strength of the IH Collection is its historical significance. The International House Archives, for example, are significant sources for the development of International House Melbourne as the first residence of its type in Australia. Notable series include records created by the women’s fundraising auxiliaries, minutes of the International House Council, applications for admission from early residents and photographs. Prominent University of Melbourne academics, such as John Medley, Arthur Dean and George Paton, and national figures including Ian Clunies Ross, Richard Casey and Robert Menzies, are represented in the collection. The archival collection also illustrates broader historical events such as Australia’s increasing engagement with Asia in the second half of the twentieth century, the ending of the White Australia Policy and the changing experiences of international students in Australia.
The International House Archives are also of social significance to both past and present IHers. Collection items such as photographs, the student magazine Satadal, and archival material relating to the House play and other student activities make up a rich and socially-significant record of sixty years of life at International House.
The IH archival collection has been a key source for the forthcoming history of International House being written by Professor Emeritus Frank Larkins. Photographs from the International House Archives are also gradually being digitised and will soon be accessible via the IH Library catalogue.
View some of the items in this collection at International House from 9 - 17 July 2017.