I n 1976 The Design Centre of Tasmania, a new retail craft and design gallery, was opened by Gary and Pat Cleveland in Tamar Street, Launceston. The original aim of the Design Centre was to stimulate a growing cottage industry of high quality craft and design produced by Tasmanians. At first the Centre had to supplement its stock with art supplies and materials from interstate; however, soon it developed its policy (still active today) of stocking only Tasmanian items.
The Design Centre, as a newly developed retail gallery, held regular showings of the work of emerging practitioners, amongst them the then-unknown wood designer Kevin Perkins and leather worker Gary Greenwood. It achieved a reputation for innovative and inspiring work. For many artists it provided the first portal through which their work could be viewed by and sold to the general public.
The Design Centre retail gallery was converted into a not-for-profit trust in 2002. Proceeds from the Trust are directed towards the upkeep of the Museum and Temporary Exhibitions Program.
The Tasmanian Wood Design Collection
In the late 1980s Gary Cleveland worked with Andy Skuja, then Commissioner for Forests in Tasmania, to develop a new and exciting idea: the first Australian museum collection of contemporary wood design. Many other people were involved in the development of the proposal over several years.
Finally, in 1991, the Tasmanian Wood Design Collection was formed as an independent not-for-profit organisation with Andy Skuja as its inaugural Chairman. A series of open-entry Biennial exhibitions of wood design were held and all Tasmanian designers and crafts practitioners working with timber were encouraged to enter. A panel of judges selected the best pieces to acquire for the new Museum.
The Tasmanian Wood Design Collection was housed for several years in Macquarie House, a historic building located adjacent to Launceston’s City Council Chambers. On the completion of building works in early 2002, the collection moved to its current location in the Design Centre complex on Tamar Street, Launceston.