Our History

For over forty years Arts Project Australia has been supporting the artistic pursuits of artists with an intellectual disability.

Myra Hilgendorf OAM founded Arts Project Australia in 1974 with the insistence that intellectually disabled artists’ work be presented in a professional manner and that artists were accorded the same dignity and respect as their non-disabled peers. Myra’s own experience of more than 20 years caring for her daughter Johanna, an artist with an intellectual disability, led her to pursue quality opportunities and resources for others. She and her colleagues took a major step in bringing the work to the attention of the art world and general public.

Key dates


Arts Project Australia established by Myra Hilgendorf OAM. Starts producing professionally mounted exhibitions, forming a core part of Arts Project Australia's original mission.

Myra and Joanna Hilgendorf


Studio workshop program commences at the Moorakyne stables, Lisson Grove, Hawthorn.


Artists exhibit internationally at MADMuseé and Centre d'Art Differencié, Belgium. Artist Julian Martin selected for the Moët & Chandon Touring Exhibition.


Arts Project Australia moves to current location at 24 High St, Northcote.


Arts Project Australia's collection deemed to have international significance by National Gallery of Australia significance assessment.


Three Arts Project artists feature in Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and a significant collection of work by Alan Constable and Boris Cipusev is acquired.


Transformer, Julian Martin's retrospective exhibition, takes place. Martin among other artists are represented by Fleisher/Ollman in the USA at The Armory Show and Outsider Art Fair (both NY).


Arts Project Australia hosts international Outsider Art Conference in partnership with the University of Melbourne, hosting many prestigious local and international speakers.


Artist Terry Williams has a sell-out solo show at White Columns, New York, curated by Ricky Swallow.


Arts Project Australia presents a pop-up gallery in Collins Place for one month, supported by NKN Gallery and Gandel Philanthropy.

Collins Place Pop-up Gallery, CBD Melbourne