The New England and Regional Art Museum's latest exhibition, opening Friday, takes the public into the history of one of our city's most iconic buildings.
"College on the Hill" celebrates the history and architecture of the Old Teachers' College, 90 this year.
Construction started in 1929 - the same year Howard Hinton donated his first artworks to Armidale and the college. Those 1400 artworks became the backbone of today's NERAM, created to house the collection in 1983.
"We want to mark that occasion," NERAM director Rachael Parsons said. "For us, the Teachers' College and that relationship with Howard Hinton are seminal to our development as a museum. The history of Armidale is tied up in a joint passion for education and culture."
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NERAM has worked with UNE archivist Bill Oates and Graham Wilson, president of the Friends of the Teachers' College (FOTC), to retell some of the building's stories, from education to sport and social activities.
"Armidale is still full of people who worked or studied at the Teachers' College," Ms Parsons said. "We hope people will turn up and see someone that they knew, or even see themselves."
A showreel, for instance, displays photos of wrestlers, dancers, and swimmers from the 1940s - a fascinating glimpse into a bygone age. "You really get a sense of the time, because of what they're wearing, and their hair styles," Ms Parsons said.
Then there are artefacts from the UNE Heritage Centre and FOTC collections, including Art Deco woodwork and bakelite mementos.
The college was also where some locals had their first encounters with paintings.
"The Hinton Collection, for a lot of people, was an important entry point to developing a true love for art," Ms Parsons said.
As a curator, she is amazed and amused that Hinton collected paintings, and sent them in crates to the college - where teachers and students opened the boxes, unpacked the works, and hung them on classroom and corridor walls.
"From a conservation point, it sounds totally mad - but what an outstanding vision to provide such open access to some really significant cultural works!" Ms Parsons said.
Some of the images in the exhibition show the Hinton collection in situ, as the patron intended them to be shown.
"You really get a sense of where it began, and how integrated it was into the everyday running of the school," Ms Parsons said.
"We can't underestimate how much that has meant to the people who went to the college, and also to Armidale as a town. It's the catalyst for why NERAM exists, so this exhibition is a really nice opportunity to look back and acknowledge that history."
"College on the Hill" opens at NERAM, 106-114 Kennedy Street, this Friday, June 21, and runs until August 18.
On June 27, a panel of guest speakers will talk about their stories. 'Memories of the Old Teachers' College', Ms Parsons said, will not be an official lecture on the building's history. "We wanted to make it more personal, so that people could remember and recount their experiences of the building."