Stories They Tell: a history of Kew through objects
14 September 2022 – June 2023

Stories They Tell: a history of Kew through objects
 was launched by the Mayor of Boroondara, Cr Jane Addis at the Kew Court House on 14 September. The book includes 31 specially selected objects from the Kew Historical Society collection, each with full page illustrations, and accompanying ‘stories’ identifying each object’s historic, artistic, research or spiritual relevance to Kew. Copies of the book are available for purchase at a cost of $25. You can view many of the items described in the book in our new exhibition on level 1 of the Court House.
Fridays 11.00am – 1.00pm
Kew Court House, 188 High Street, Kew

On Parade – 46 years of the Kew Festival
Parades were traditionally designed to allow community groups to participate in local festivals. The Kew Festival, initiated in 1974, encouraged community groups to engage with and value local heritage. During the 2020 Kew Festival, we are mounting an exhibition of photographs of previous festival parades that will enable visitors to view and perhaps identify members of those groups. Supporting artefacts from previous festivals will also be displayed.
View the online exhibition

The Art of The Lithographer 1892-1918
The Set of the lithographers explores how, whey, when and where Illuminated certificates and testimonials in our collection were created. Each certificate drew upon the combined skills of designers, engravers and printers. Some of these examples are unique to the collection.
View the online exhibition

Kew Illustrated, 1891
Exhibition featuring the complete set of twelve panoramas of Kew commissioned in 1891 by Sir Henry de Castres Kellett. The silver albumen photographs by J.F.C Farquhar are the most important series of nineteenth century photographs of Kew.
View the Online exhibition
pdf file icon Download the Exhibition catalogue
(149kB PDF format)


Fashion in the Age of Elegance 1840-1900
2023 Australian Heritage Festival event, held at Villa Alba Museum from 22 April to 7 June. Showcasing nineteenth century costumes and accessories from the Henty, Coombs and Weir collections. The Henty costumes were owned by Mary Ann Henty, Alice Henty and Grace Hindson, nee Burland. The earliest item displayed was the wedding dress of Mary Ann Lawrence, which she wore at her marriage to Francis Henty in Launceston in 1842. The Weir items were owned by Edith Weir, nee Betteridge, and include her wedding dress from 1891. The Coombs costumes were owned by Caroline Coombs, nee Michel, and include her wedding dress from 1869. [All items can be viewed on Victorian Collections. View the illustrated 2023 AHF Catalogue of items exhibited.

Community Spirit in Action: Kew Senior Citizens 1952-2022
A multi-room exhibition at the Kew Court House, displaying items from the collection and archives of the Kew Historical Society. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a selection of images and artefacts illustrating the history of the Kew Senior Citizens. The exhibition coincides with the publication of a history of that organisation, which in 2022 celebrates the 70th year of community service provision. The exhibition also features important items from our permanent collection including portraits, documents, aerial photographs and artefacts.

Outdoor Leisure Activities – Lawn Bowls, Tennis & Croquet in Kew
From Saturday 27 March, exhibitions at the Kew Court House and Kew Library, feature items from the collections of the former Kew Bowling Club (1880-1998), Auburn Heights Recreation Club (1904-1988), and Kew Heights Sports Club (1998-2012).

Textiles in Bloom – Floral elements in textiles and fashion design
A curated exhibition of 19th and 20th century textiles, costumes and fashion accessories from our collection in the ground floor rooms of the Villa Alba Museum in Walmer Street.

From Municipality to City: Chairmen and Mayors of Kew 1861-1994
An exhibition of historic portraits of the former civic leaders of Kew. The digitisation of the portraits was funded by a City of Boroondara Strengthening Communities Grant. The portraits were conserved by a Local History Grant funded by the Victorian Government
Curated by KHS Research Group

The Poetic Home
Designing the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Interior explores this emerging poetic sensibility through the work of two ‘interior decoration’ firms – Cullis Hill & Co, and the Paterson Brothers – and the singular imagination of an architect – EG Kilburn, who between them created a series of remarkable interiors in three great houses in Kew in the 1880s and 1890s: Villa Alba, Ordsall and Tara Hall.

Railways of Kew
Did you know that the City of Kew once had two railways? This exhibition focuses on railway history in Boroondara. While the primary focus will be on the ‘Outer Circle’ railway, pictures and objects relating to the Kew Branch Line will also be exhibited. Photographs of construction, infrastructure including railway stock, and the line’s destruction will be drawn from the Kew Historical Society’s collection. 

Historic houses of Kew
An exhibition including paintings of both cottages and mansions by Joy Stewart (1925-2018). A story accompanying each building explores its architectural significance as well as the lives of its inhabitants. 

Water H20
Historic images and objects depicting this precious resource, and its relationship to Kew: including natural waterways, water for domestic, recreational and industrial use, and its use in in our parks and gardens.

Traders of Kew: Past and present
By 1858, Kew was well supplied with stores and the usual tradesmen of a township. Many of these early businesses were still in operation a century later. Some of the present day traders have been in business for over 50 years, and in some cases, almost 100 years. The exhibitions explores the history of past and present traders in Kew and Kew East through historic photographs and objects.

Theatre & Music in Kew: the 1950s & 60s
An exhibition featuring rare scrapbooks, photographs, programmes, and contemporary reviews of theatre and music performances in the Kew Recreation Hall and the Kew City Hall, drawn from the Marion Tilley and Alfred Dear Collections.

Scouts and Girl Guides in Kew 1909-2009
An exhibition featuring a number of photographs and objects illustrating the history of Scouts and Girl Guides in Kew.

Round the Bend – Asylums on the Yarra 1848-2008
An photographic exhibition exploring the historical roles of the ‘asylum’ in Victorian culture, focusing on the Yarra Bend Asylum, the Kew Lunatic Asylum (later Willsmere Hospital) and Kew Cottages.

Historic Gardens of Kew
An exhibition of photographs, paintings, ephemera and realia – sourced from the collection of the Kew Historical Society and augmented with works from public and private collections – which explores the history of private and public gardens and gardening in Kew.

Victorian Era Fashion
An exhibition of historic costumes, fashion accessories and photographs dating from the period 1850-1900, drawn from the costume and photographic collections of the Kew Historical Society, augmented with loans from private collectors. The exhibition has been made possible with the support of the City of Boroondara and the Balwyn Rotary Club.

Survey Maps of Kew
An exhibition of early 20th century Melbourne and Metropolitan survey maps of Kew.

J. E. Barnes: Kew’s ‘Embarkation Photographer’
Josiah Earl Barnes, Kew’s greatest photographer, worked locally as a photographer from ca. 1908 until his death in 1921. 

Beyond the Gate
A photographic exploration of nine significant houses, each selected to represent a particular decade of our history from the 1840s to the 1920s.
pdf file icon Download the Exhibition catalogue – Beyond the Gate

Kew from Above
Aerial photographs of Kew from the collections of the Kew Historical Society and the State Library of Victoria.
pdf file icon Download the Exhibition catalogue – Kew From Above

Sport in Kew
Photographs and ephemera from the collections of the Green Acres Golf Club, Kew Croquet Club, Kew Football Club, Kew Golf Club, North Kew Tennis Club, and the Sacred Heart Tennis Club.

Kew Living
Selected photographs of people, places and events in Kew, Kew East and Studley Park, taken in 1988 to mark the Australian Bicentennial.

Schools of Kew
The history of Trinity Grammar School
The 50th anniversary of Kew High School.

Dancing in Kew
Private ballrooms in the great houses of Kew and in major hall such as the Kew Recreation Hall in Wellington Street.