I’ve been meaning to go check out the Johnston Collection for years. It’s a house museum that is regularly re-done to show off different parts of its collection but unfortunately, I only found out that it even existed during my exhausted months of pregnancy and then, what with the small child and all, I haven’t had a chance to go since. I took the other week off to get some precious R&R time to myself, however, and finally made it. Woo!
The museum is kind of mysterious. Partly that’s because they are not part of the National Trust but rather operate under their own trust; but also, they’re prohibited from advertising its address as part of its permit, since they’re in a residential street. Visitors have to book in advance, meet at a nearby hotel at a designated time and then take a shuttle bus to the property.
However, since they name the property as “Fairhall” on their website it’s perfectly easy to look up on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Which is what I told my partner to do, should I fail to return home afterwards. I may have mentioned organ harvesting.
I have precisely two photographs to show you of the property, as they actually confiscated our phones and indeed our bags, before the tour. I considered telling them that parting a Gen Y from her phone was cruel and unusual but since I was the only person present under 60, decided to just go with it.
Here is the front of the house:
And its heritage plaque:
Wait, I lied. I have a third photo, which is of the floral arrangement in the bathroom, which I partly took because I wanted to look up what these flowers were, but mostly was taken out of relief at having my phone back:
I very much enjoyed the museum. They have all sorts of stuff, such as: a collection of English Regency-ish era miniatures that made me feel like I was in that scene in Pride and Prejudice where Lizzy is sneakily checking out Pemberley while Darcy isn’t there; an impressive antique furniture collection, including a French desk from the early 1700s that is allegedly the one King Farouk of Egypt signed his abdication on but which Mr Johnston used to just use as his desk and put his feet on and stuff; a bunch of genuine polar bear skin rugs that made me uncomfortable; and (temporarily) a whole lot of crazy shit that Richard Nylon has done for them, since he’s the latest in a long line of creatives asked to re-do the collective for display.
Said crazy shit included a bed covered in porcelain statues of dogs and a dining table covered in a “corpse” made out of antique crystal glassware, to give you an idea. Also he made a bunch of hats for the statuary. As you do.
I did kind of felt a bit rushed going through. I didn’t feel like we got to really linger anywhere like you can in other house museums around Melbourne. I wanted to examine the miniatures and look at the furniture and not be on a tour. But it was what it was, and it was interesting.
Walking back to the car, however, was also very interesting, as the architecture in that part of East Melbourne is stunning. I mean, look at these:
An old church that was converted into apartments after a fire.
My god, this Art Moderne apartment block is just begging to be used in some 1940s murder mystery…
And this one is just waiting to be used in a 1960s period drama
This one just needs to be mine.
There is also a stunning block of flats on Powlett Street that is just mindbogglingly beautiful but I couldn’t stop the car when I saw it due to traffic. There are some shots of it here, though. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous.