Grainger Museum

Grainger Museum Home | Browse Grainger Collections | Search Collections | My Collection
The Grainger Museum Collection
The Grainger Museum is the public face of an internationally significant archive and artifact collection numbering in excess of 100,000 items. Motivated by the desire to interpret and contextualise his creative achievements and cultural environment, Percy Grainger developed a highly eclectic collection. Selected items are on display in the Museum building. The majority of the collection is available for research by prior arrangement. Please contact the museum on
The art collection comprises oil paintings, prints, works-on-paper and sculpture, and includes works by: Rupert Bunny, Tom Roberts, Jacques-Emile Blanche, Augustus John, Jelka Delius, Albert Edward Aldis, Ella Grainger, Fredrick Leverton Harris, Ernest Thesiger, John Passmore, Helen Lemprière, Norma Bull, Bess Norris Tait, Noel Counihan, Norman Lindsay, Mortimer Menpes, Kaare Nygaard, and Francis Derwent Wood.
Percy Grainger's unique towelling clothing designs, his military uniforms, childhood clothes, formal wear, items of Ella Grainger's wardrobe as well as examples of clothes belonging to the composers Cyril Scott, Balfour Gardiner and Roger Quilter.   Percy Grainger also preserved his mother's significant wardrobe, which includes gowns by Chanel and Worth, and provides insight into fashion trends of the upper-middle class during the Edwardian era.
Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic Period designs are prominent within the decorative arts collection which includes copper utensils, vessels and lamps made by the New York metal smiths, Jos Heinrichs and silverware by Lebolt from Chicago. Porcelain and ceramics in the collection include items by Meissen, Royal Copenhagen, Royal Doulton, Willow Pattern (various makers), Japanese porcelain (Meiji period), Mamluk and Ottoman pottery and painted tiles by Ella Grainger. Furniture dates from the mid 17th century to late 19th century and is predominantly of British origin. Of particular note are chairs believed to have been designed by Arts and Crafts designer Ernest Gimson and a vernacular oak kitchen chair from the mid-17th century. Grainger also collected a writing desk belonging to Edvard Grieg and a document box originally belonging to Franz Liszt.
Correspondence The Grainger Museum archive contains approximately 50,000 items of correspondence. Grainger preserved extensive correspondence between himself and the following:Edvard Grieg, Fredrick Delius, Cyril Scott, Balfour Gardiner; Roger Quilter; Dom Anselm Hughes, Arnold Dolmetsch, Herman and Alfhild Sandby, Amy Black, Henry Cowell, Lewis Slavit, Ernest Thesiger, Adolph de Meyer, Margot Harrison, Karen Holten, Elsie Bristow. The archive also holds the Ella Grainger collection of correspondence, and letters collected by Rose Grainger. Business Records and Personal Papers Grainger's banking and account records, taxation records, insurance, investments, royalties, performing and recording contracts and private bills are held by the Museum.Personal papers include birth and death certificates, Percy Grainger's autopsy report, will, naturalisation papers, medical records, shopping lists and dietary lists. Concert Programs An almost complete set of concert programs from 1894 - 1960 record Grainger's performing career. Graphic Designs/ Typography Percy Grainger designed many of the covers for his published music. This collection includes numerous sketches, finished artworks, printers' proofs, colour tests and examples of calligraphy. Music Manuscripts and Published Musical Editions The Museum's holdings of compositions and arrangements by Grainger are comprehensively listed in two catalogues written by Dr Kay Dreyfus and published by the Grainger Museum. Grainger's extensive collection of published music by other composers is listed in a catalogue written by Phil Clifford and published by the Grainger Museum in 1983. All three catalogues are available for purchase through the Grainger Museum.
Grainger began collecting artefacts from diverse cultural groups during his concert tours before World War One. His ethnographic collection grew to include costumes, masks, headwear, footwear, adornments, utensils and weapons. During his tour in 1908-09 he became interested in weaving jewellery and accoutrements from glass beads, and also began an extensive collection of bead artefacts that included items from Melanesia, Polynesia, North America and South Africa.
There are approximately 250 musical instruments in the collection.   Keyboard: Including upright pianos, square pianos, grand pianos, harmoniums, Dulcitone, Weber Duo-art reproducing piano   Tuned Percussion: Including staff bells, metal marimba, wooden marimbas, xylophones, tuned glasses , mallets   Strings: Including harp, harp guitar, guitars, ukuleles, viol, violin   Woodwind/brass: Including clarinets, oboes, flute, fife, slide whistles, sarrusophones, saxophone, trombones   Non-Western Instruments: Including didjeridoo, clapping sticks, auto-zither, ban hu, gong, yueh ch'in (moon guitar), san hsien, yang chin, rabâb, drums, kerar, sansa, maracas   Other: Accordion, concertina, Theremin   Hirschfeld-Mack Collection: Experimental wooden wind and string instruments made and designed by Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Weimar Bauhaus trained artist and teacher   Percy Grainger's Experimental Free Music Machines ('Tone-Tools'): Including Butterfly Piano (prepared child's piano), Reed-Box Tone-Tool, “Kangaroo-Pouch” Tone-Tool, prepared piano roll for Grainger's composition Sketches for Sea Song, Sliding Pipe “Free Music" invention.
The Grainger Museum contains approximately 15,000 images that illustrate most years of Grainger's life and his social milieu. He also documented his practice of flagellism and collected commercially produced erotic photographs during the 1920s and 1930s. The collection includes works by Arnold Genthe, H. Walter Barnett, Adolph de Meyer, Gertrude Kasebier, Mina Moore, May Moore, Jean De Strelecki.
The collection referred to by Grainger as his 'Lust Branch' comprises pornography, whips and clothing, and protective devices used by Grainger and his lovers during sexual activities. Grainger also included news clippings, photographic documentation and essays investigating and discussing his sexual expression.
This collection is fully listed in the University of Melbourne Library catalogue:  The library of over four thousand volumes which Percy Grainger deposited in the Grainger Museum is remarkable for both its scope and variety. It contains most of the books Grainger collected during his life, including those which inspired him as a child, though it does not include all the books which influenced him. During the early stages of his career, when his income as a pianist was irregular and uncertain, he was very careful in his spending. His letters from the years before 1914 sometimes include requests to borrow books and suggest that when he did actually purchase books he found it necessary to justify the expense. Grainger's correspondence from this crucial period in his life, when the foundations of his career as pianist, composer and musicologist were laid, indicates that he was an avid and engaged reader, a habit which he had begun in childhood and continued throughout his life. It was a felicitous alternative to the formal education which he had managed to avoid and this, in turn, probably accounts for the surprising diversity of his library. Reading, along with the bleak, desert landscapes of Australia, Scandinavia and the American West, was a major influence on Grainger's creative life and sometimes the two coalesced in his artistic projects. In a notebook he kept around the age of twenty, he set out a scheme for the musical styles he wanted to develop which were explicitly inspired by the country between Adelaide and Melbourne and, amongst other things, Kipling, "Whitman's Newworldism" and his reading of old Norse literature. Grainger's library contained books in many languages and he was sometimes indiscriminate about the language in which he read a book. For example, he read d'Anunzio's Giaconda in Dutch, in a copy presented to him by the translator, J. Salomosen-Asser. Much of the modern literature he read was in the Scandinavian languages, including modern Icelandic, and amongst his extensive collection of modern Scandinavian books there are first editions of novels by the modern Icelandic writer Haldor Laxness who was awarded the Nobel prize in 1955. There were also a number of writers in English whose ideas had an important influence on Grainger's thoughts and imagination and who are well-represented in his library. These include Rudyard Kipling, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Altogether, the library which Grainger established in the Museum reflects a diverse range of interests which may even seem paradoxical, though it is worth considering that these interests were united in a single artist of genius, who may have been more aware of their coherence than their divergence. In any case, it is probable that Grainger intended this library to serve the idea of the Museum, which was established not primarily as a monument to himself but as a centre for the study of music and, by extension, of artistic creativity. The library, then, should not be regarded simply as a personal and somewhat eccentric collection of books, including titles which are now obscure or unfashionable, but as a guide to the developments of the first half of the twentieth century which usefully complicate the canonical view of the modern movement.
The Grainger Museum sound archive includes: Phonograph CylindersRecordings of English, Danish, Rarotongan (Cook Islands) and Maori folk singers Gramophone Records(Lacquer, acetate, 78rpm)Recordings of Percy Grainger's piano performances;10inch acetate recordings of Grainger's musical experiments, rehearsals and some interviews - date range mid 1930s to mid 1950s (these items have been transferred to CD);Grainger's collection of Classical recordings; Piano RollsIncluding Grainger playing his own works and works by other composers; other artists playing a variety of classical and popular pieces Audio Tapes  (reel-to-reel)Private recordings of radio broadcasts, rehearsals, musical performances acquired from various sources LP records and CD collectionThese are fully listed in the University of Melbourne Library catalogue: 
Manuscripts, published scores and supporting archival material are held for the following composers:Prof. G.W.L. Marshall-HallElsa Marshall-Hall (Elsa Inman)Ian BonightonMary (May) BraheFlorence M. Donaldson EwartMona McBurneyHenry Tate Leon CaronAnne MackeyPhilip NunnEdwin BurchettViolet Vernon
A.E.H. Nickson Collection - music, books, personal papers, including a collection of music by the German late Romantic composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933).Noel Nickson Collection -papers relating to his research into the court music of the Tang Dynasty Alberto Zelman - personal papers, photographs, programs, correspondence, and newsclippings relating to the life of this important figure in Australia's musical history.Horace Stevens - personal papers.Royal Victorian Liedertafel Collection - documents, photographs, programs, scores and memorabilia, including records of several other Liedertafeln associated with, or amalgamated into the Royal Victorian Liedertafel.Shirley Schneider Collection - documents and ephemera, including concert programs relating to Australian musical performances from 1902 onwards.Melbourne Orchestral Programs Collection - concert programs relating to musical events, mainly in Melbourne, from 1926 to 1941.Kogan Collection - concert programs of the Victorian/Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.Professor Laver Collection - documents relating to the life of the first Australian-born Ormond Professor of Music at the University of Melbourne from 1915-25.Matilda Kirke Collection - 19th century piano and vocal music.Dorian Le Gallienne - scores belonging to Dorian Le Gallienne.
The Grainger Museum Collection