The Gift of Ann Lewis AO

In 2009 Sydney-based collector, patron and philanthropist Ann Lewis AO donated 54 works from her private collection to the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Ann Lewis Gift comprises major paintings, sculptures and photography, strengthening the MCA’s holdings in key areas, in particular recent Australian painting and includes significant works by major Aboriginal artists.

The collection provides a unique perspective on art practice over the past 50 years, shaped by the vision of one of Australia’s best regarded collectors and arts supporters. Ann Lewis’ pivotal role in Australian art history has contributed to a collection of works built at the forefront of cultural production. The Gift includes a range of artworks from different times and locations, including early works by Rosalie Gascoigne from the mid 1970s to paintings by Aboriginal artists from remote communities and photographic series by artists such as Rosemary Laing and Jon Lewis. Other artists included in the collection are Hany Armanious, Mikala Dwyer, Sally Gabori, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Rosella Namok, Dorothy Napangardi Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda, Robert Rauschenberg, Neil Roberts, Ricky Swallow, Judy Watson, Louise Weaver and Anne Zahalka.

Ann Lewis was one of the most admired and respected members of the Australian and indeed international art world. She was Director of Sydney’s influential Gallery A in Paddington from 1964 until 1983. She was also a foundation member of the Visual Arts Board, Australia Council; President of the Art Gallery Society at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, a member of the Aboriginal Arts and Crafts Council and a member of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Her generous gift was presented in the exhibition Almanac, The Gift of Ann Lewis AO at the MCA from 8 December 2009 until 18 April 2010, and is currently touring to Australian and regional galleries until 2013.

Hany Armanious Untitled Snake Oil (detail) 1998, installation view, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2009, Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Ann Lewis AO, 2009, Image courtesy and © the artist