Eva and Marc Besen began collecting artworks in the 1950s and since then their love for the arts has continued to grow. As a way of sharing their passion with the Australian public Eva and Marc Besen undertook to establish Australia’s first significant, privately funded, public museum. In 1999, the first steps were taken to make this dream a reality, with the formulation of a vision for a new museum in the Yarra Valley, with its own collection of Australian art chosen from their private collection that has been lovingly assembled over the last fifty years.
TarraWarra Museum of Art was established as a company limited by guarantee in October 2000 and runs as a not-for-profit institution. The museum was launched by the Prime Minister, The Honourable John Howard in April 2002 at its temporary premises at the Metropolitan Meat Market on Blackwood Street, Melbourne holding three exhibitions at that location.
Building A MUSEUM
In 2000, an architectural competition was conducted with five of Melbourne’s outstanding architects invited to present design schemes for the museum. Allan Powell’s design for this elegant building, arcing gently from the earth in concert with the contours and hues of the landscape, was chosen. Construction of the new museum began in 2002 and was undertaken by Probuild Constructions. The TarraWarra Museum of Art was opened by the Victorian Premier, The Honourable Steve Bracks in December 2003. In 2004 Allan Powell was awarded the winner of the 2004 Victorian Premier’s Design Award for his design of TarraWarra Museum of Art.
Private / Public
TarraWarra Museum of Art is described as a ‘privately funded, public art museum’. TarraWarra Museum of Art is a gift to the Australian public by founders Eva and Marc Besen. The initial donation included the 142 artworks and the creation of the beautiful purpose built museum. TWMA receives all operational funding from the Besen Family Foundation, in addition to further donations of artworks. TWMA also purchases artworks and accepts donations from other collectors and artists. As a way of supplementing the funding received from Eva and Marc Besen we raise funds through our activities, events and the sale of items from the shop. TarraWarra Museum of Art is classified as a charitable entity, a not-for-profit organisation. TarraWarra Museum of Art receives a substantial amount of its operating budget from the Besen Family Foundation. We also seek in kind and financial sponsors, corporate partners, and government grants.
Up and running
Since opening its doors to the public on the 18th December, 2003 TarraWarra Museum of Art has been one of the cultural jewels in the Yarra Valley providing visitors with a relaxing and enjoyable experience comprising of both stunning architecture and a wealth of modern and contemporary art to absorb.