Lyon Housemuseum

5 mins reading

“One of the world’s 10 most exciting buildings of private museums”

Calling all who nurture an appreciation of contemporary Australian art, as well as those who wish to commence the appreciation journey – the time is now to celebrate! What is being celebrated? Well, it is the Lyon Housemuseum, of course! Located at 219 Cotham Road, Kew, the Lyon Housemuseum is the private residence of founding patrons Corbett and Yueji Lyon. It offers a one-of-a-kind combination of family residence and private museum, bringing these seemingly opposable spaces into a single building. Upon further consideration, however, this amalgamation is entirely appropriate. Some would even go as far as to argue it is perfectly appropriate. Though the definitions of art are many and varied – and often times overly complex, to be quite frank – the actual visceral experience of art is inarguably personal. As a matter of fact, this experience of art is so personal that it is nearly impossible to describe in words. It is an experience that transcends the intellect and dances in the infinite space of emotion. It is quite fitting, then, that a private residence – the most personal material expression of how one lives – serves as the backdrop against which people interact with a work of art.

The Lyon Housemuseum is the love story of a partnership between collector Corbett Lyon and his wife, Yueji. Together, they began shaping a collection of Australian contemporary art more than 29 years ago. The foundation works of the collection, acquired by Corbett in 1990, include ‘Nude in a Landscape, 1989’ by Linda Marrinon and ‘Orange Building Site, 1990’ by Louis Forthun. Since 1994, Corbett and Yueji have jointly expanded their acquisitions to incorporate important works by many of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists. Currently, over 350 works representing over 50 artists are available for public viewing. These works comprise one of the largest collections of its type in the entire country, and they follow selected artists over the course of their evolving careers. Artists include internationally recognised Brook Andrew, Howard Arkley, Patricia Piccinini, Callum Morton, Shaun Gladwell, Daniel von Sturmer and Daniel Crooks. Furthermore, the Lyon Housemuseum collection reflects many key moments and important shifts in overall Australian artistic practice and thinking. One could call it a roadmap, of sorts, charting the unexpected and ever-growing presence of Australian contemporary art on the international stage. And, of course, art being art, the Lyon collection also reflects the evolution – or devolution depending on with whom one speaks – of Australia as a country.

Lyon Housemuseum, Kew

In 2010, Larry’s List named the Housemuseum “one of the world’s 10 most exciting buildings of private museums”. As you can imagine, this is no small accolade. The building was designed by Corbett Lyon, an architect, and extends the lineage of private art collections housed and displayed in residential settings, including Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, New York’s Frick Collection, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and London’s Wallace Collection. In March 2019, the Lyon Housemuseum underwent a major expansion, culminating in the creation of the public Housemuseum Galleries. Also designed by Corbett Lyon, the new platform offers a series of spaces, contemporary art spaces, where national and international exhibitions of art, architecture and design are presented. These new spaces provide large, flexible exhibition potential and are specifically designed for large-scale artworks and installations. The central gallery features a 5.5m-high ceiling, surrounded by four peripheral galleries, each presenting a different character and aspect. Additionally, a public forecourt and enclosed sculpture garden extend the new museum beyond its physical walls. This is a complex that has to be experienced to be believed, truly.

The Lyon Housemuseum is open for pre-booked tours on designated days each year. The Housemuseum Galleries, on the other hand, are open to the public Wednesday to Sunday each week from 11:00am to 4:00pm.

Lyon Housemuseum, Kew

Lyon Housemuseum, Kew