“It’s an outstanding museum… an ambitious, high quality, fantastic advocate for contemporary Australian art.”
Tony Ellwood, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria
Image Credit: Courtesy Lyon Housemuseum.
Photographer: John Gollings.
Lyon Housemuseum and Galleries
The Lyon Housemuseum is a project that speculates on the conjunction of art and living, challenges conventional notions of public and private and explores relationships between art and architecture through a new hybridised type – a ‘housemuseum’. The Housemuseum is inherently different to our other projects but at its core it embodies our approach to design and architecture. It is a project born from an idea, a project that draws on individual experience, a project thoughtfully designed to bring people pleasure. Designed by Corbett Lyons, a founding director of Lyons, the hybrid residence and contemporary art museum is located in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. The Housemuseum is a testament to the passion projects that are ever-present in the minds of our architects.
219 Cotham Road
Kew, VIC 3101
Corbett and Yueji Lyon (Housemuseum), Lyon Foundation (Galleries)
Located on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people
1350 m² (Housemuseum), 1385m² (Galleries)
“One of the world’s 10 most exciting buildings of private art museums.”
Larry’s List, 2010
The Lyon Housemuseum was born from the need to house the expanding art collection of Corbett Lyon and his wife, Yueji Lyon. Corbett saw an opportunity to create a radically new type of building – a design that combines a house for living with a fully functioning museum. He called on his fond memories of visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and designed a unique space that challenges the relationship between public and private. Two large double height spaces – a ‘white cube’ and ‘black box’ – anchor each end of the building and are designed explicitly as museum spaces. Private domestic spaces for the family are defined with enclosed boxlike forms and are located across the two levels of the building. Many of the rooms in the Housemuseum have a dual museum and domestic function. The family kitchen doubles as a café when tours or events are running, the study is also an archive for visiting researchers and academics and the black box showing video art is also used by the family to watch movies. The deliberate ambiguity of the spaces makes the Housemusem a truly unique combination of family residence and private museum.
At its core, the Lyon Housemuseum explores the dialogue between art and architecture and how one cannot be extracted from the other. The project embeds art into the daily life of Corbett and Yueji and gives guests a new context in which art can be experienced. The Housemuseum is home to a collection of 350 artworks of contemporary Australian artists, approximately a quarter of which are on display at any one time. The collection focuses on a select group of artists to show the in-depth evolution of their practices. The Housemuseum is very much about understanding how people inhabit buildings and experience art. As Corbett or Yueji lead tours through the space an overlap is evident in the way people experience art in a gallery or museum and how guests are welcomed into a domestic space. Both the art viewer and house guest share qualities of intimacy, introspection and curiosity. The Housemuseum’s design and curation purposefully does not dictate a sequential viewing order for guests and instead encourages a meandering path to experience the art.
As the art collection continued to expand, so too did the need for a larger museum space, and so the Housemuseum Galleries were completed in 2019 on an adjacent site. Offering a new platform for works of contemporary art, architecture and design, the new public Housemuseum Galleries are a major expansion of the Lyon Housemuseum. Opened in March 2019, the new Galleries offer a series of contemporary spaces where larger exhibitions of art, architecture and design are presented.
Making public spaces
“[Corbett and Yueji Lyon] are fascinated by what our culture can produce. In many ways, it’s a selfless curiosity.”
Leon van Schaik, Innovation Professor of Architecture at Melbourne’s RMIT University