An insider's look at Peggy Guggenheim: A Collection in Venice

Behind the Scenes at AGWA

Fun for the family this Sunday!

Nothing to do this Sunday? Well, here are your plans! This special event has something for everyone – come enjoy the sunshine in the heart of Perth, and pay a visit to Peggy Guggenheim: A Collection in Venice.

I’ve been working in the upstairs shop over the past couple of weeks, and it’s been great to hear feedback from visitors straight out of the exhibition. We’ve had locals and people from all over the world – including those who have been to the Guggenheim Museum in Venice – coming to see it, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The Italian merchandise has been a hit, particularly the whacky kaleidoscope looking glasses. We’ve just received a special delivery of Gallery-exclusive shirts, available in sizes 10 to XL.


Don’t leave it to January to see the show, because I can guarantee that one visit will not be enough! We’ll see you on Sunday at the Italian Festival Day.



– Tegan the Intern

The Spirit of Italia

Hello everyone!

I hope you saw our story on the 7.30 Report on Monday night? If you missed it, you can watch the video here. We’re very excited to have Tony Delroy from 720 ABC Perth coming to the Gallery on Friday afternoon to record ‘The Challenge’ – be sure to tune in, and keep an eye out in the coming weeks as Peggy goes on the air for Channel 9.

The Italian Festival Day is fast approaching, with the official program boasting free face painting, glass art demonstrations, games of bocce on the lawn, cooking demonstrations, live music, the Art of Espresso Making at Caffisimo, mask-making for kids, plus plenty of food and wine. Perfect for all ages!

Speaking of Caffisimo, the space is set to be Guggenheimed with limited edition cups, table talkers and a special coffee blend in the coming weeks. In their own words:

When we found out that ‘Peggy Guggenheim: A Collection in Venice’ was coming to The Art Gallery of Western Australia, we had to celebrate. And how better to mark the occasion than with a unique coffee blend? Our inspiration came from both Venice; a city of devout coffee aficionados, and of course Peggy; a bold woman with great taste. The result is our San Marco Basilica Blend: A darker, richer roast, with an exceptionally full-bodied flavour. One sip and you’ll appreciate the Italian style with complex chocolate, hazelnut and caramel tones, finished with a sweet, full crema. Try it as an espresso, macchiato or however else you take your coffee.


Fans of the annual Year 12 Perspectives exhibition will be pleased to hear that judging has been completed, and from what I’m told we’ve got a stunning range of works from our local young artists coming to the Gallery on 29 January.

That’s all from me for now – I’ll see you at the Italian Festival Day on Sunday 7 November!

–Tegan the Intern





The hits keep coming!

First of all, I’d like to give a big thank you to those who have been following my blog! We’ve topped 500 hits, which is pretty exciting for a 20-year-old student!

It’s good news all round this morning as we recount the success of the opening weekend. Around 750 people attended the opening on Friday night, enjoying drinks, hot food and, of course, magnificent art. One attendee remarked that the evening was “perfect down to every last detail.”

We had around 300 people through the doors on Saturday and 600 on Sunday, and we hope to see those figures climb as word gets out around Perth. The theatrette was packed on Sunday afternoon for Leigh Robb’s talk, which was great to see.

We’ve teamed up with PropelArts to bring you a series of engaging and fun art workshops (click the link to find out more!) and planning is underway for the Italian Festival Day.

Peggy’s here – spread the word!


— Tegan the Intern

Champagne and Baci Kisses

This morning at the bus stop, a woman asked me about my Peggy Guggenheim shirt, wanting to know more about the exhibition. I was in my pre-coffee stupor at this point so I turned around to show her the list of artists on my back, to which she exclaimed “Wow! Well, that’s great advertising.”

Today’s media launch was proof that our sponsors, advertisers and friends from the media are as excited as we are to be a part of this event. We were delighted to have our very own Peggy on the staircase greeting our guests – a performance maintained beautifully throughout the event by Nicola Renton-Weir. The turnout was great, and from my station behind the marketing table I was able to catch snatches of praise for the exhibition and lots of smiling faces (particularly when I offered chocolates).

The champagne is cooling in the fridge as the staff count down to tonight’s opening, where they can finally let their hair down and reap the rewards of months of planning. I will be continuing this blog with the help of Aston Gibbs, a local girl who is going over to Venice in November to take part in the internship program. We look forward to hearing from her – in the meantime, enjoy the show!

Are you ready? Peggy’s just around the corner!

There are only two days to go until Peggy Guggenheim: A Collection in Venice is open to the public! All of the artworks have made it through quarantine and have arrived safe and sound. Staff are busy finalising arrangements for the opening event, which has SOLD OUT! It will certainly be a night to remember.

I’m looking forward to a busy day on Friday, where I will be lending a hand at the media launch – stay tuned for the inside scoop. I will also be working at the special Guggenheim shop for the next couple of months, so pop in to say hello and pick up some Felicity Peters jewellery, some Kiesler-style furniture, or choose from a huge range of books. Remember, Christmas is coming!

If you’re coming to the Gallery on Sunday, join our free Sunday Session talk with Leigh Robb in the theatrette from 2pm. Numbers are limited, so get in quick! Remember, you can purchase our audio tour to accompany your exhibition experience, or you can book a group tour through the Gallery, sharing the experience with friends. Kids can enjoy an interactive children’s trail, free with admission. The Youth Photography Competition is set to be launched at the opening, giving young photographers the chance to win great prizes and show off their skills.

Bring the kids, bring your nan, bring your neighbours! I will see you at the opening weekend festivities.

— Tegan the Intern

Interview with Leigh Robb

Leigh Robb – PICA Curator and guest lecturer for Peggy Guggenheim: A Collection in Venice

Tell me a bit about your career path.

I studied art history at the University of Queensland. While I was a student, I volunteered and interned at the Queensland Art Gallery, first working as a research assistant for the curator of prints, drawings and photographs, and then getting involved with the website. I curated my first show in my third year at Metro Arts in Brisbane.

I started an internship at the Guggenheim museum straight after I graduated. From there I ran the internship program, then I came back as internship manager, and then I came back again after working in Milan. I ran the education program at the Guggenheim for two years, then went to London to do my masters at Courtauld.

I worked at Thomas Dane Gallery for four years. I was Associate Director by the time I’d left and had worked with some really amazing artists including Steve McQueen, Paul Pfeiffer, Michael Landy, Glenn Ligon – the Gallery represents over 18 international and British artists and so I worked with them on a lot of their exhibitions. I curated on the side while I was there, and got to a point where I wanted to be curating more directly, and I interacting with the public. I wanted to support my generation of artists.

Why is this collection so important?

For me, it’s like seeing old friends. I think I know those artworks better than I know any other piece. It’s quite incredible to have a relationship with paintings that’s personal and professional. It’s such an important exhibition, they’re textbook modern artworks so they were really key in terms of engaging in a really avant-garde time.

It’s incredibly rare for so many pieces to leave the collection at any one time, so to have thirty works from her collection leave the palace and come as far as Australia – it’s a big undertaking in terms of their conservation, their safety – to be able to see such iconic works so far from their home is such a privilege.

Any internship stories?

There’d always be occasions when we’d open the museum late on a Sunday evening for private tours. I remember taking Jude Law and Sienna Miller through the collection, and then they had cocktails on the roof. I met Bette Midler, Antony Hopkins – there were a lot of people who came through Venice because it’s an incredibly romantic city. My internship also gave me great exposure to some of the most important patrons of the arts.

What do you love the most about Peggy?

I really do love Peggy, her vision and the way she supported the art of her time. What I love about Art of this Century is that she commissioned Frederick Kiesler to design these really radical spaces that allowed you to interact with the art. You could move paintings 360° and move them back and forth. He created a really surreal space. He also created an abstract gallery where works were suspended on string structures and you could see the paintings from the front and the back. She did some really great, ambitious shows, she really lived it.

She helped so many artists get out of Europe during the second world war, which shifted the centre of the art world from Paris to New York. The Guggenheim museum is such a well loved space. People feel a personal connection to her story and to the works, and those parallel stories help people to understand really complex ideas. You get such a rich history of modern art from that collection alone.

What can we expect from your talks?

I’ll be giving an illustrated lecture this Sunday at 2pm concentrating on Art of This Century, then I’ll give the Friends a walk-through. In December I’ll give a guided tour, focussing on the work of Mondrian and Pollock, and Peggy’s relationship with each of them.

Why should people come to see the show?

To get that calibre of work and to see them in your own city is such a privilege. Their cultural value in the world is extraordinary, they are precious pieces. Nowhere else in Australia is getting this opportunity. Also, Phillip Rylands is coming from Venice to share some of his insight. He’s always said his first and only job is to run that museum, which he’s done since the 70s. He knew her, so he has that connection. As an Australian student, you may never get the chance to see works like these outside of textbooks. To be in the space with the pieces, to see how they’re using paint, to see how sculptors are thinking about space and volume, is really incredible.

For some more internship stories and gems of wisdom from Leigh, follow this link:

Interview with Ashlee Brockway

Ashlee Brockway – Visitor Information Assistant at the Art Gallery of Western Australia

What is your role?

I’m the first point of contact for the public and representative of the staff. I take care of interactive spaces, and I make sure there are always flyers and information available. I get asked all sorts of things about the city, particularly regarding arts and culture. I also coordinate the volunteers.

How many volunteer applications did you receive?

I lost count after 180 – we’ve taken on 80 new people, and unfortunately we had to turn away people who were very excited to be involved.

What is the vibe at the front desk?

I’ve been here for 18 months and I’ve never seen people this excited. The fact that Perth is getting it, and it’s not going to the NGV or the NGA, makes it really special.

How are you feeling about the upcoming exhibition?

I’m looking forward to it. I love Magritte and Ernst, I’ve studied them at uni. I’ve been to Venice twice – it’s a brilliant collection and I’m proud that we’ll be hosting it.

What are you most looking forward to over the next couple of months?

Getting a diverse crowd in, not just the regulars. Plus I’ve never seen a Kandinsky!