Inside the Collection

Alastair Morrison

Jain shrine donated by Alastair Morrison. Collection, Powerhouse Museum
Jain shrine donated by Alastair Morrison. Collection, Powerhouse Museum

Alastair Morrison, Life Fellow and great friend of the Powerhouse Museum, passed away on Tuesday 4 August, aged 93. Alastair was one of the Museum’s most consistent and generous donors over a long period of time, in particular with gifts to the Asian collections and working closely with curator Claire Roberts.

Most notable among his many gifts was an extensive collection of wonderful photographs by his wife Hedda Morrison, including many of her original prints; these document Beijing (then Peking) and China in the 1930s and 40s as well as Sarawak in north west Borneo where Alastair and Hedda lived for 19 years, until moving to Canberra in the late 1960s. Alastair also donated two large collections of mostly Indian and Nepali bronze figurines reflecting the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist philosophies, many of which are now on display at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre. And, in the last few months, we received a superb collection of early Sukothai and Sawankhalok (Thai) and Annamese (Vietnamese) ceramics of the 1400s and 1500s, which curator Min-Jung Kim is now documenting for acquisition.

A collector all his life, Alastair was also a writer and a scholar and his gifts to the Museum were accompanied by a range of books from his extensive research library to ours. Although, sadly, I never met Hedda Morrison, I was fortunate to meet and talk with Alastair many times and will always remember in particular his great flair as a story teller and the tantalising glimpses he gave us of a long and interesting life well lived.

His full obituary can be read in the Sydney Morning Herald <a href=”here.

Christina Sumner
Principal Curator Design & Society

One response to “Alastair Morrison

  • In addition to Chris’s beautifully-written tribute, I would like to record that I felt in the presence of Alastair an immediate connection to wondrous times, events and personalities. Like me, many who were present will remember Alastair’s acceptance speech at the Life Fellow awards dinner where he drolly pondered the optimism of receiving a life award at the age of nearly 90! The Museum has lost a great friend but Alastair’s consistent generosity will ensure that his and Hedda Morrison’s great legacy of images and objects count highly among the Powerhouse’s many treasures.

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