Students viewing art in the Burke Gallery

Sir Joseph Burke

The Burke Gallery at Trinity College is a permanent gallery space in our Gateway Building, which features the College's own rich art collections plus a rotation of curated exhibitions.

The Professor Sir Joseph Burke Gallery

The visual arts have long been an important element of the collegiate experience at Trinity, from public sculptural works in the grounds to the Dining Hall's remarkable collection of Australian portraiture.  

Located on the first floor of the Gateway Building, the addition of The Professor Sir Joseph Burke Gallery - often referred to simply as the Burke Gallery - emphasises the importance the College places on providing a rich and stimulating cultural environment in which students live and study.

Named after Professor Sir Joseph Burke, the University of Melbourne's inaugural Herald Chair of Fine Arts and resident art tutor at Trinity, the gallery is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am-4pm, and Saturdays between 10am - 1pm, by free admission.

Who was Professor Sir Joseph Burke?

Born in England in 1913, Joseph 'Joe' Burke studied at King's College, London before completing his Masters degree at Yale in 1936, under the tutelage of Professor Theodore Sizer.  

For a time he worked at the South Kensington Museum in London before war broke out and he was seconded in to the Public Service. Various circumstances would see Burke rise through the civil service, to become the private secretary of Prime Minister Clement Attlee.

Recommended by Sizer to Daryl Lindsay, then director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Burke was offered and accepted the role of inaugural Herald Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne; a position endowed through Sir Keith Murdoch and the Herald & Weekly Times.

Under Burke, the University of Melbourne's Department of Fine Arts was established - the first of its kind in Australia.  He would hold the role for thirty-two years, until his retirement in 1979.

An active participant in Melbourne's academic and cultural life, Burke was an equally engaged member of the Trinity College community, as a resident art tutor, a Fellow, and a dedicated parishioner of the College Chapel.

In remembering Burke, Trinity's Sixth Warden Dr Evan Burge would reflect that 'while remaining English', he: '...became a true Australian with a deep love and understanding of the varied aspects and moods of the Australian landscape and its intimate relationship with Australian art, was a fine scholar and a magnificent speaker.  Above all he was a truly good man'.