Bendigo Art Gallery was founded in 1887 – Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Year. In the late 1880s, distinguished Bendigo architect WC Vahland supervised the conversion of the former Bendigo Volunteer Rifle’s orderly room in View Street into a new home for the Gallery’s collection.
The revamped Gallery opened in 1890, and occupied the building now called Bolton Court. Drury Court was added in 1897, then Abbott Court just eight years later following a plan devised by another leading local architect, William Beebe. These rooms were designed in the grand European tradition (notably the Tate Gallery, London) with polished wood floors, ornate plaster arches and cornices, and diffused natural sky-lighting through rooftop lantern towers.
The Gallery’s original polychrome red and white Victorian brick facade onto View Street, and its Victorian and Edwardian galleries, remained largely intact until 1962, when a modern cream-brick entrance to View Street was added, which included new offices and three new galleries: the Scott and Sonnenberg Courts and the BS Andrew Gallery.