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 The Art Society of Tasmania Inc.                      (Lady Franklin Gallery closed due to COVID-19)                     Ancanthe Park, 268 Lenah Valley Road, Lenah Valley, Tasmania 7008


Ancanthe Park
268 Lenah Valley Road
PO Box 403
Lenah Valley
Tasmania 7008


Patron: Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania
Vice Patrons: Hobart Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds and Mr Rob Valentine MLC

Exhibition Hours
Every Sat-Sun
Closed until further notice
HomeHistory of the Gallery

History of the Lady Franklin Gallery

The Lady Franklin GalleryThe Lady Franklin Museum, Ancanthe (vale or valley of flowers), known now as The Lady Franklin Gallery, is a classical sandstone building in Lenah Valley. In 1842 Lady Jane Franklin, the wife of Governor Sir John Franklin, had it built at her own expense. It was to be used as a museum and library containing Tasmanian memorabilia, botanical specimens, sculptures, and other items from her own collection at Government House. 

The Franklins were shocked at the lack of cultural institutions and the indifference of early colonists. Jane was an exceptionally resourceful and talented woman who envisaged and brought about the erection of a classical building along the lines of a Greek temple to ensure the continuance of cultural aspirations of the future colony. 

When it opened on 26th October 1843 the museum contained sculptures, books and pictures. The Franklins left Hobart aboard the schooner Flying Fish on 4th November 1843. The building and 400 acres of land were left in trust to Christ's College. By 1920 most of the land had been sold and the building was being used as an apple store and cow shed. 

In 1936 the property was transferred to the City Council, and in 1948 the Council accepted a proposal by The Art Society of Tasmania to lease the building as their Gallery.

Since then, the building has been restored and renovated by the Hobart City Council, and is being lovingly looked after by the Arts Society for the generations to come.

Enjoy the images!
Michael Grant talking about the buildingIn this 4-minute YouTube video Michael Grant recalls his early memories of playing in the grounds, then discusses some aspects of its history and construction.

{click on the image to see the video}

Lady Franklin Museum - circa 1900 ?{click on the image to see full size - courtesy Tasmanian Archives}

Lady Franklin Museum - circa 1930 ? Apple boxes (?) stacked on the portico

{click on the image to see full size - courtesy State Library of Victoria}


Lady Franklin and Party on Moss Rock Yosemite Valley 1861 - detail{click on the image to see larger version}

{PHOTO CREDIT: Visions of the North derived from the George Eastman Museum of Photography}
Lady Jane Franklin, age 70 (right, in hood) with her niece Sophia Cracroft, age 45 (centre).
This is the only known photograph of Jane Franklin, taken 18 years after she left Tasmania.
Lady Franklin and Party on Moss Rock Yosemite Valley 1861 - stereo postcard{click on the image to see larger version}

{PHOTO CREDIT: The New York Public Library}
A stereo postcard of the full scene, with detail shown in the image opposite.
It was now 16 years since her husband Sir John Franklin had sailed on his fateful
expedition in 1845 
to find the Northwest Passage across the top of Canada. [Pentangle]
Lady Franklin organised several searches for her husband but he was never found.
Exhausted by twelve years of searching, Lady Franklin turned with relief to her passion
for foreign travel. Lady Franklin was a woman of unusual character and personality,
The Lady Franklin Gallery, Ancantheis a wonderful legacy she left for us all.

Lady Jane Franklin, sketch circa 1840{click on the image to see full size - courtesy W L Crowther Library, State Library of Tasmania}

Catalogue of books in the Franklin Museum, Ancanthe (April 1845)This is a list of the 152 books originally in the Museum's library,
published in the Tasmanian Journal - April 1845.
The Library Rules as they were in 1844 are also listed.
Note that the top half of page 313 is describing the Launceston Horticultural Society, not Ancanthe.
{click on the image to see the full list - courtesy National Library of Australia}


Letter from Lady Franklin, 25th Oct. 1843, and postcard engraving of Ancanthe
{click on an image below to see the full document - courtesy University of Tasmania ePrints}


Letter from Jane Franklin to George Washington Walker inviting himself and Mrs Walker to the opening of the, soon to be completed, museum 'Ancanthe'.

The museum, and about 500 acres of land, was entrusted to five members of the Tasmanian Society for a future college, the proceeds of the land to be used to maintain the museum and form a native arboretum. Membership requirements of the Society are outlined, being a combination of submission of a paper to the journal, a Tasmanian natural history object to the museum or a book to the library with connections to any of the Australian Colonies. 

Mention is made of the selection of articles from the tables at Government House prior to the sale, by Mrs Walker and some other ladies of the Tasmanian Society, one of which she is offering to her as a memorial to their association. 
The inscription in Latin and English on the cornerstone of the Museum 
is written at the end of the letter. 
(there is a transcription of the letter at the bottom of this web page)

The card with an engraving of Ancanthe, by the convict artist Thomas Bock, was given by Lady Franklin to those attending the opening of 'Ancanthe'. 
The inscription on the back by George Washington Walker reads, 
'Presented by Lady Franklin on the eve of her departure from V. D. Land along with a token of remembrance to my wife, 25/10 mo. 1843. GWW'. 
This card accompanied a vase given by Lady Franklin to Mrs. G. W. Walker.

Transcription of Jane Franklin's letter

My Dear Sir

I enclose you a card of our little museum at Ancanthe which we open tomorrow, tho' it is not yet quite completed. I have just made it over with between 4 or 500 acres of land in the same valley to 5 members of the Tasmanian Society in trust for the future College, the proceeds of the land to be devoted to the maintenance of the Museum & the formation of a native arboretum. The titles to membership of the Society have always been the contribution of a paper to the journal, some object of Tasmanian natural history to the Museum or a book to the library - but under the latter head the books admissible, (for want of space in the building & in order to secure completeness in one object,) are reduced to the following 3 classes.

1. Books illustrating this or the other Australian Colonies.
2. Books written by Authors inhabitants of this or the other Australian Colonies.
3. Works of a respectable character issuing from the press of the above mentioned Colonies.

We felt sure that under one or other of these titles Mr Backhouse's name might be inscribed on our list without asking his leave beforehand. Indeed the whole Colony is well aware how much service has been indebted to him & to you for the wealth of your visit to it. I have always deeply regretted that we have known you less as a Resident than we did as a Visitor, nonetheless we have never doubted your kindly feelings. I am sorry Mrs Walker was not present with some other ladies of the Tasmanian Society when they did me the favor of selecting some articles from the table at Govt House previous to the sale. I have nothing left that is worthy of her acceptance, but I shall not scruple on that account to beg her acceptance of the inclosed trifle as a memorial of my regard & of those interesting objects in which we were for a brief period associated.

It would give me great pleasure to see you both at Ancanthe tomorrow, & at all counts I shall be glad if at any time it is able according to its purpose to administer to the instruction or amusement of any lover of nature & of the 
works[?] afford[?].

Believe me my dear Sir
with very sincere esteem
ever yours
Jane Franklin
25th Oct. 1843

The following is the inscription in Latin & English in the corner stone of the Museum.

[Latin not transcribed here]

Laid March 16. 1842. by Sir John Franklin in the presence of the Masters and Scholars of the Queen’s School & others his friends, as the corner stone of an Edifice to be given in trust from Lady Franklin to the College for the purpose of preserving the productions of Nature & as a Retreat for her Ministers & Interpreters.

[The "Queen's School" existed 1840-1845, initially in Macquarie Street, Hobart]
[The "College" is Christ's College which was originally opened  in 1846 at Bishopsbourne, near Launceston. In 1879 it re-opened in Hobart, and since an Act of parliament in 1926 it has been simply named Christ College. Since 1933 has been affiliated with the University of Tasmania.  {link]
The Franklins' departure from Hobart, 4th Nov 1843

The Art Society of Tasmania Inc., Ancanthe Park, 268 Lenah Valley Road, Lenah Valley, Tasmania 7008.    ABN 73 537 464 400