In 1961 Jacqueline Kennedy decided to launch The Americana Fund to raise private funds to furnish the White House in Washington D.C. with a sense of history and authenticity and as a focus of national pride. The Diplomatic rooms in the State Department were similarly decorated with superb examples of American decorative arts, acquired with funds donated by the public.
On moving into the official residences, Tamie Fraser, the wife of then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, was surprised, "there was not even a salad bowl of Gough Whitlam's" (Sun, August 1976). Mrs Fraser then considered how the official residences could be provided with a fine permanent collection to reflect history and traditions. Fortunately Malcolm and Tamie Fraser travelled to Washington in 1976 where Mrs Fraser met Mr Clement Conger, the Curator of the Diplomatic Rooms and of the White House. Mrs Fraser resolved to establish an Australiana Fund to furnish the Official Residences in Australia, and she became its first President in 1978.
The Australiana Fund is an independent fundraising organisation established to raise funds to acquire and preserve a permanent collection of art works that are Australian by origin or by association. It is non-political and self-governing. All acquisitions are made without financial assistance from the Australian Government.
The Australiana Fund collection furnishes the Official Residences occupied by the Governor-General of Australia; Government House, Canberra and Admiralty House, Sydney and the residences of the Prime Minister of Australia; The Lodge, Canberra and Kirribilli House, Sydney.
The collection comprises significant examples of decorative arts, furniture, paintings, silver and objects relating to past Governors-General and Prime Ministers. On loan to furnish the State and public areas of each residence, the collection also represents Australia’s many artistic and historical achievements.
The Australiana Fund's continuing aim is to enhance each Official Residence with high quality artworks, furniture and objects which will represent the best workmanship from every Australian State and Territory which in years to come will continue to reflect our cultural pride and heritage.
First Meeting of The Australiana Fund, 1978
on the steps of Government House, Canberra.