Open House Melbourne
Open House spotlights significant architecture and buildings in and around Melbourne. The Convent is delighted to be opening our doors for the event and allow the public to take a sneak peek into our heritage buildings.
Today an engine room of creativity and home to more than 150 artists, writers, thinkers, makers and creators, the Abbotsford Convent was once one of the largest Catholic complexes in Australia. Founded by The Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1863, the Abbotsford Convent operated as a monastic site until 1975, providing refuge, education and shelter for thousands of women and girls, many of whom lived in the Sacred Heart building and worked in the Magdalen Laundry.
Inscribed on the National Heritage List in 2017, the Convent is recognised for demonstrating Australia’s social and welfare history through the lens of a religious and charitable institution. The architectural style of the Convent’s 11 buildings range from French Gothic/Medieval and European Baroque Revival, to the utilitarian early colonial architecture of the original Industrial School. Most buildings were constructed between 1868 and 1908.
The Convent’s Magdalen Laundries and asylum buildings are an important physical record for those Australians and their families known as the Forgotten Australians. The Laundries have been partly restored this year and will feature in the Open House program for the first time.
Open House at the Convent Program, Sunday 28 July 2019, 11am – 3.30pm
11am – Artist talk with Claire Robertson, St Heliers Street Gallery
11.30am – Convent Building Studio Tour
1pm – Conservators talk: Restoration of the Convent Building's Heritage Tiles with Artist and Conservator – Penny Byrne (booking required): BOOK NOW
The heritage tiles on the balcony and community corridor in the main Convent building were recently restored to their former glory by ceramics conservator Penny Byrne and specialist heritage tiler Michael Hathaway. Penny and Michael have over 50 years of combined experience in the conservation of heritage buildings. In this illustrated talk Penny will explain the process involved in heritage tiles conservation, with some amazing before and after images.
1.45pm – Artist talk with Penny Byrne – St Heliers Street Gallery
2pm – Convent Made tour of Sacred Heart and Mercator studios
2.30pm – Architects tour: Kerstin Thompson Architects, Award winning Sacred Heart Restoration Project
3pm – Architects talk: Restoration of the Magdalen Laundry with Peter Williams (OAM) Founding Director, Williams Boag Architects (bookings required): BOOK NOW
Join Peter Williams OAM, Founding Director of Williams Boag Architects, for a discussion on the Abbotsford Convent’s most recent major restoration project. Peter Williams will cover some of the history of the Magdalen Laundry, the early design thinking behind the 2019 restoration project and the eventual outcome of these preliminary works.
Polyglot Theatre's office in the Abbotsford Convent will also be open. The main space will be open with architects, Rob Nerlich and Kate McMahon, from Mcmahon and Nerlich on site to take informal walk-throughs and answer questions. Read more.