I visited the Grainger Museum on Tuesday 21 August. As the 2018 recipient of the IMAC award, I have been keen to explore the many collections based on campus at the University of Melbourne. The only knowledge I had of Percy Grainger was that he composed that song about the English country garden, which my friends and I used to sing when we were younger in the playground. Besides this, I had no idea about the sheer extent of Grainger’s extraordinary character. I had anticipated that the museum would provide me with a showcase of important, historical objects relating to this figure in Melbourne. To describe the collection as a showcase is an understatement. I was overwhelmed by the diversity of the objects, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was in an alternative, historic version of Instagram within a museum context. It seems that Grainger was well ahead of the times; he had taken a concept and amplified it, by constructing his life in a way that only he would want it to be seen by the public eye, like his very own beautifully refined and curated Instagram account. Even now, in the days after Grainger’s death, the museum feels very true to his original intention and ethics.
So I began to collect manuscripts, musical sketches, letters, articles, mementos, portraits, photographs, etc., by and of those English-speaking Scandinavian composers that seemed to me the most gifted and progressive – always with the intention of someday putting this collection on permanent display in Melbourne. [1.]