24 June, 2020
Dame Nellie Melba and Percy Grainger were two of the most famous Australians of their time. Both achieved success on the world stage and became household names in the country of their birth.
Adopting a name in honour of her home town, Nellie Melba made her professional debut in 1887 and became hailed as one of the world’s greatest opera singers. Percy Grainger was a child prodigy who forged a career of pianistic brilliance and musical innovation as the new century unfolded. The musical talents of Melba and Grainger, who had both family and professional connections, were matched only by the fame they engendered. Stampeding their way into popular consciousness, they each created rich intellectual and material legacies.
In 2018, Arts Centre Melbourne collaborated with the Grainger Museum at the University of Melbourne to develop the exhibition Objects of Fame: Nellie Melba and Percy Grainger. Drawing on objects from Arts Centre Melbourne's Australian Performing Arts Collection and the Grainger Museum, the exhibition explored the lives of these two extraordinary Australians and the fame that surrounded them.
A full colour 38-page catalogue was published to accompany the exhibition. This publication can now be viewed online.
The catalogue begins with an introductory overview of the exhibition by curators Heather Gaunt (Grainger Museum) and Margaret Marshall (Arts Centre Melbourne). It also features three scholarly essays on the topic of fame: ‘More Than 15 Minutes of Fame: Curating Legacies of Limelight’ by Ashley Barnwell, ‘Performative Travel: Celebrity Bodies and Their Baggage’ by Jacqueline Dutton and ‘The Psychology of Fame’ by Simon Kinsella.