The launch of NERAM's winter season on Friday night was doubly memorable for Armidale resident Maureen Bullen.
Her daughter Leah's one-woman show "Biophilia" opened at the art gallery.
So did "College on the Hill", celebrating 90 years of the Old Teachers' College, where she was secretary in the 1960s.
"Your eye moves over minute details and pulsating colours," NERAM director Rachael Parsons said. "They're beautiful, but they're also considered, smart, and rigorous."
Mrs Bullen and her daughter Anna Thomson were proud and excited by Leah's success.
"She's done a marvellous job," Mrs Bullen said. "She's worked hard, but she's always been interested in art."
"It is truly a wonderful record of an amazing institution," Professor Michael Wilmore, UNE dean of humanities, said, opening the exhibition.
In 1927, then-NSW Minister for Education David Drummond decided to create the college on the site of the old Armidale Gaol. The college opened its doors under the first principal, C.B. Newling.
"Since then," Professor Michael Wilmore said, "this town has been a leading centre for education, not only in its region, but throughout Australia, and internationally."
The college became the College of Advanced Education in 1971, and was amalgamated with UNE in 1988.
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 wanted to mark this anniversary," Ms Parsons said, "because it is a living history that involves so many members of the community, who studied and worked there."
The exhibition, UNE archivist Bill Oates said, tells their memories and stories.
He curated the exhibition with Graham Wilson, president of the Friends of the Teachers' College (FOTC), and NERAM's Belinda Hungerford.
Photographs from the university and college's collections, and by H.B. and Walter David Solomons, show the demolition of the prison; the construction of the college; the early students; activities of the staff and students; and portrait shots. World War II photos, for instance, show students harvesting opium, picking peas, and manufacturing model aeroplanes.
"If you sit down with the teachers, it will all come out," Mr Oates said. "Everybody will remember their cohort, their couple of years, and what happened in town."
One teacher remembered drinking at the New England Hotel every Saturday evening after cricket; a teenager would play the piano standing up. It took the teacher 30 years to realise that youngster was 'The Boy from Oz', Tenterfield-born singer-songwriter Peter Allen, famous for the song "I Still Call Australia Home".
Mrs Bullen was secretary at the college for five years; she began in 1961 and retired in December 1965, when pregnant with Anna. She started as an office assistant, and ended as secretary to then-principal George Muir.
"They were the best years of my working life," she said. "There was so much communication between the staff, the students, and the administrative staff."
Barry Squire, maths education lecturer from 1970 to 2003, said he loved every minute of being at the college.
He began his demonstrations in the third week of his own teaching career, because his professor wanted to show students where they would they be once graduated.
He remembered external students from around Australia and other parts of the world coming for a week's residential school.
"They would walk up the front steps; look at the columns; and their jaws would drop. 'Do you get paid to work here?' they would ask. It was really a special week."
Mr Squire will talk about his time at the college on Thursday afternoon. He and a panel of other former teachers will talk about their "Memories of the Old Teachers' College", 2pm at NERAM, hosted by Mr Oates and Mr Wilson. "The love for the Teachers' College is immense," Ms Parsons said.
"Biophilia" runs until July 28; "College on the Hill" until August 18. NERAM, 106-114 Kennedy Street, is open daily except Mondays.