The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift

Feature image
Red case: myths and rituals. Unknown artist, Ceremonial kettle, 17th–19th century, brass, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift

A hands-on touring exhibition from the National Gallery of Australia



In 1988 Jim Wolfensohn (the Australian-born former president of the World Bank) generously donated funds to enable the National Gallery of Australia to buy museum-quality works of art to travel Australia as part of a unique exhibition program. In this program, a wide range of audiences, including those living with disability, are able to experience art first-hand in a compelling way.

The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift comprise three art-filled suitcases and the 1888 Melbourne Cup*. They have travelled to schools, libraries, community centres, regional galleries and nursing homes since their development in 1990. In this way, the Gift is enjoyed by both children and adults in remote, regional and metropolitan centres across Australia. This distinctive travelling exhibition has a strong educational function. The valuable artworks have been carefully selected to be both interesting and resilient; so that they can be handled and enjoyed by young and old for many years to come.

The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift is a project that is at the heart of the Gallery’s Travelling Exhibitions program. The Gallery is delighted to continue to provide such a distinctive art experience to the Australian community and is grateful for the generosity of Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn.


The red and yellow suitcase kits tour together.


Red case: myths & rituals

The Red Case, Myths and rituals, is filled with works that draw upon beliefs and symbols from different countries around the world — India, China, Africa and Australia. These works range from a ceremonial teapot to an Ankus (elephant goad) and are created out of a range of media, including bronze, wood and pearl shell.


Yellow case: form, space & design

The Yellow Case, form, space, design, presents a mixture of concepts that show great humour and originality. Neil Roberts’ small bronze sculpture The space inside my fist captures the invisible space between the fingers and palm when made into a fist; Ian Howard’s darkly comedic The arms of the people highlight’s the artist’s concerns about war; other items include Mary Oliver’s music sticks and David Wallace’s bush toys of stockmen on horses from Santa Teresa near Alice Springs.


For educational kit on both Red and Yellow cases see:


* The Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum will have the Red Case and the Yellow Case available only



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