In 2004 the Abbotsford Convent Coalition fought to save the Convent from commercial redevelopment and won.  

This mighty movement was marked by the Foundation being handed the keys to the Convent by the Victorian Government, providing the community with a special place to celebrate arts, culture and learning.  

20 years later, Abbotsford Convent remains a prominent pillar of curiosity and collaboration, meeting and meaning. The heart of a creative community. Memories are created here. Moments are celebrated here. Momentum is harnessed here. 


The story so far

In 1997, a major property developer won the tender to purchase the land on which Abbotsford Convent was built. Upon viewing the plans, local residents were stunned to find a proposal of 289 apartments, including major construction of new buildings and the demolition of many heritage buildings. Five people met in a kitchen to discuss their dismay, and the Abbotsford Convent Coalition was formed. The idea was to transform the site into an arts, educational, cultural and tourist precinct for the community. With support from the public and attention from the media, they led a massive community campaign that lasted for seven years. 

In April of 2004, the Abbotsford Convent Coalition and the community finally won the fight to save the Convent. The State Government of Victoria gifted the site to the public, and the Abbotsford Convent Foundation was born as the custodian of the site to safeguard and manage it on behalf of the people.  


The celebration 

Throughout the year, we will be highlighting all that has been accomplished and experienced over the years, exploring the community’s emotional connections to Abbotsford Convent. We hope to inspire our community to remember how far we have come in the past 20 years as we look optimistically to our future. 

On Saturday 27 April, we will be celebrating 20 years since the Abbotsford Convent Foundation was handed the keys to the Convent by the Victorian Government, and work began to transform it into the thriving precinct it is today. The Community Open Day invites all members of the community to join us as we fill the precinct to the brim with life, featuring an array of arts and cultural experiences in many wonderous forms.  


Community Open Day 
Abbotsford Convent
27 April 2024

Celebrate with us. Follow the Convent’s story.



As part of the anniversary program, we plan to speak to the future of the Convent through storytelling. For those interested in discovering more about the Convent Coalition’s efforts, the 20 years of vibrant activity that followed and a view to the future, visit the free commemorative exhibition: an archival journey commissioned by Abbotsford Convent and curated by Catlin Langford.

Open to public from 27 April, the exhibition is a grateful acknowledgement of those members of our Coalition and other key players who worked – and continue to work – tirelessly to ensure the future of the Convent. The exhibition serves as an uplifting reminder of how far we have come in the past 20 years, the momentum we have gained and a glimpse into what tomorrow holds for our beloved Convent. 


 ACF20 Exhibition
The Store
Opens 27 April 2024

Celebrate with us. Follow the Convent’s story.