All but two of these letters came from the office of the Chief Secretary of the Government of Victoria and concern the grants allocated to the Warrnambool Art Gallery from 1886 to 1911. At that time the Art Gallery was under the control of the Warrnambool Mechanics Institute Committee and managed by the Secretary/Treasurer of that group. The Government funding for the Art Gallery at the time represented a sum of money equal to the value of the works of art donated locally to the Art Gallery in any given year and frequently the estimated value of these art works were queried by the Warrnambool Secretary of the time. Two notable Secretaries of the Mechanics Institutes during this time were Walter Cockman (1880-1892) and George Lance (1892-1901). The correspondence under review here was retained by George Lance and his family and came into the possession of Lance’s grandson, Bruce Morris who was the editor of the Warrnambool Standard newspaper from 1946 to 1968 and was a well-known local historian.
These letters are of considerable importance as they are original and document the struggle of the Warrnambool Art Gallery over the years 1886 to 1911 to secure funding from the Victorian Government.
These are 19 pieces of correspondence relating to Warrnmbool Art Gallery grants and purchases from 1886 to 1911. The letters are written on different size pieces of paper (mostly foolscap size), with thirteen of them being handwritten and six being typed. All letters have original signatures. The earliest letter (1886) is very tattered.