Events at the Stonnington History Centre

Discover Stonnington’s past with History Matters, a range of free workshops and presentations on a variety of history topics, led by Stonnington History Centre staff. We also run an exciting exhibition program and occasional tours of the building. For further information, please contact us.

Where bookings are required, they open at 10am on the first day of the month prior to the event.

All sessions take place at the Stonnington History Centre exhibition space at 1257 High Street, Malvern (behind Malvern Library), unless specified otherwise.

The City of Stonnington will be taking photographs and/or filming at events. Your image may be reproduced in publications and/or promotional materials, on ourwebsite and/or social media. See our privacy statement for further information.

Map of History Centre and Northbook


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History Matters: Seamus O’Hanlon – City Life

Australia’s cities are changing fast. Melbourne and Sydney are each now home to more than five million residents. What were once factory zones are now dominated by residential apartment towers, five star hotels and skyscraper office blocks; the places where we used to make clothes and food are where we now buy them or consume them in plush, upmarket surroundings. And whereas before the 1980s tertiary education was the privilege of a small elite, today higher education is an almost universal experience. City-based universities with their signature ‘starchitect’-designed buildings are a key feature of the nation’s revitalised urban landscapes and among the country’s largest employers.

In this talk Seamus O’Hanlon from Monash University draws on his new book City Life: the new urban Australia (New South 2018) to reflect not only on forty years of change in Australia’s major cities, but also on what it means to be Australian in the urban twenty-first century.

Wednesday 27 March 2019, 5.30–6.30pm

Book online or call 8290 1360.


Business postcard

Upcoming exhibition: The Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Stonnington History Centre's next exhibition showcases local entrepreneurs, their businesses, products and stories. Meet the makers, manufacturers and magnates who lived and worked in Stonnington. Read early letters by Anthony Edwin Bowes Kelly Founding Director of BHP), who lived in Glenferrie Road. Examine the electric appliances made by the Marriotts in their Hecla factory in Chapel Street. Marvel at the coaches, cars, bicycles and household goods made in our local streets, and remember the brands and slogans of the past in photographs and ephemera.

Launch: Wednesday 8 May, 5–7pm. Light refreshments provided. No bookings required.

Exhibition hours:
8 May - 1 June
Wednesday - Saturday, 12pm - 5pm
Stonnington History Centre Exhibition Space

If you or your family consider yourselves local entrepreneurs with a good story to tell and items to share, please contact us on 8290 1360 or email history@stonnington.vic.gov.au to discuss inclusion in exhibition. Applications for consideration close on Friday 13 April.  


 Australian Heritage Festival logo black

The Stonnington History Centre is proud to be a Friend of the 2019 National Trust Australian Heritage Festival.

Bookings for the following events are now open.

Tooronga Road Girls School class photo 1947

History Matters: John Andrews and Deborah Towns – ‘A secondary education for all’?: A history of state secondary schooling in Victoria

John Andrews and Deborah Towns discuss how they came to write ‘A secondary education for all’?, and its compendium, Unlocking the past, what they planned to include, and how the project evolved into the two books we have today. They celebrate the achievements of long-standing state-community partnerships which enabled post-primary schools to be established state-wide. While strongly affected by successive governments, the Education Department, and parent and teacher organisations, even from the outset, local communities worked, fundraised and campaigned to get improved facilities and programs for their students. To what extent have governments fulfilled their promises to provide ‘a secondary education for all’?

Dr John Andrews taught in government schools across Melbourne, including at Tooronga Road. Following 37 years with the Education Department, John has developed numerous curriculum materials for commercial publishers, the Public Record Office of Victoria, and historical sites. In 2008 he received the Australian Geography Teachers’ Associations award for innovative teaching materials and shared the Medium Museums Award for the Shrine’s Outreach Program. 

Dr Deborah Towns taught in government schools and the tertiary sector. Her PhD, ‘“Their Own Sphere”: Women Teachers in the Education Department of Victoria 1880s-1990s’ built upon her knowledge of equity and diversity in education and employment. She now works as a part-time researcher in the Centre for Workplace Leadership in the Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Melbourne.

Wednesday 1 May, 5.30–6.30pm

Book online or call 8290 1360. Presented as part of the 2019 National Trust Australian Heritage Festival.

Malvern Town Hall sketch 1885 Guided tour of Malvern Town Hall

Come on a guided tour of the Malvern Town Hall with the Mayor Councillor Steve Stefanopoulos, and explore the beautiful interior architecture, which features Queensland maple panelled walls, terrazzo floors, intricate plaster ceilings and walls, and elaborate Victorian style staircase. Commence the tour with an illustrated talk showcasing historic photographs of the Malvern Town Hall from 1886 in the Council Chamber.

Meet at the main entrance to Malvern Town Hall in Glenferrie Road.

Wednesday 8 May, 10am–12pm

Numbers are limited, bookings required. Book onlinePresented as part of the 2019 National Trust Australian Heritage Festival.

Business postcardExhibition launch: The Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Stonnington History Centre's next exhibition showcases local entrepreneurs, their businesses, products and stories. Meet the makers, manufacturers and magnates who lived and worked in Stonnington. Read early letters by Anthony Edwin Bowes Kelly (founding director of BHP), who lived in Glenferrie Road. Examine electric appliances made by the Marriotts in their Hecla factory in Chapel Street. Marvel at the coaches, cars, bicycles and household goods made in our local streets, and remember the brands and slogans of the past in photographs and ephemera.

Wednesday 8 May, 5–7pm. Light refreshments provided. No bookings required.

 Stonnington History Centre Exhibition Space. Presented as part of the 2019 National Trust Australian Heritage Festival.

Stonnington History Centre Guided tour of the Stonnington History Centre, Northbrook

Come on a behind-the-scenes tour of the working archives of the Stonnington History Centre, see some of our precious records, and learn about the programs and resources available for conducting your own research. The Stonnington History Centre manages the historic records of Stonnington Council and the former municipalities of Malvern and Prahran, and is housed in the Italianate villa Northbrook (designed by Charles D’Ebro and built in 1888-89), 1257 High Street, Malvern (behind Malvern Library). Stay on to view the History Centre's latest exhibition in the historic former ballroom.

Wednesday 15 May, 10.30–11.30am

Numbers are limited, bookings required. Book online or telephone 8290 1360. Presented as part of the 2019 National Trust Australian Heritage Festival. 


Family group

Family History Club

Curious about your ancestors? Whether you are a beginner or an experienced family history researcher, come and join our friendly monthly group where you can meet with fellow enthusiasts and explore the many genealogy resources available at the Stonnington History Centre.

First Wednesday of the month, 2–4pm: 3 April, 1 May, 5 June, 3 July, 7 August, 4 September, 2 October, 6 November, 4 December. No bookings required.

What's On at the Libraries 

Follow this link to see a list of other events held at Stonnington's Libraries, or download or print our What's On(PDF, 2MB) guide.


Past Events

Armistice exhibition postcard

Exhibition: Service and sacrifice at home and at war, 1914-1918

This Armistice Day centenary exhibition includes costumes from the Dressing Australia Museum of Costume, and is brought to you by the Stonnington History Centre. Meet the locals who contributed to the war effort at home and overseas, through their letters, photographs and ephemera. Place a poppy sticker on the gallery wall to remember those who lost their lives. Acknowledgement and disclaimer: This exhibition is partially funded under the Commonwealth Government’s Saluting Their Service Commemorations Program. The Commonwealth has not participated in the research, production or exercised editorial control over the exhibition or its contents. The views expressed and conclusions reached herein do not necessarily represent those of the Commonwealth, which expressly disclaims any responsibility for the content or accuracy of the exhibition.

Exhibition: Be Persuaded – A Jane Austen Experience Exhibition: Fashions From the Time of Jane AustenBe Persuaded exhibition postcard

To mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the Dressing Australia Museum of Costume has designed a rare and wonderful exhibition bringing Jane Austen to life in original fashion of the era. Hosted by the Stonnington History Centre, Be Persuaded features rare fashion, accessories and ephemera from the 18th century when Jane was born. Pieces such as these are rarely on display outside of major museums.

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Exhibition - The Mayoral Office: more than robes and chains 

Meet the mayors who have served the municipalities of Stonnington, Malvern and Prahran for more than 160 years. Discover the responsibilities that come with the Head of Local Government and how the Mayoral Office has evolved through time.

Streets postcard front

Exhibition - Streets where we live: From Crown land to conservation

From the subdivision of the land to the creation of our residential streets, discover the evolution of our urban landscape through maps, mansions and the modern. Topics included: land subdivisions, architectural drawings, street names and numberings, floods, re-use and re-zoning, houses large and small, houses lost and some with heritage protections, and even a history of Northbrook, now home to the Stonnington History Centre.

Threads of History postcard Exhibition - Threads of History: Dressing Stonnington through time

Our second exhibition at the Northbrook Pop-Up Gallery – Threads of History: Dressing Stonnington through time – allowed visitors to wander through the work of the seamstress, the tailor, the fashion designer and discover the clothing made and worn in Stonnington since the 1850s. A possum skin cloak, a wedding dress and exquisitely hand-stitched silk pyjamas were among some of our treasures never before seen on display.

A descriptive online exhibition catalogue is now available. 

History Matters postcard pic

Exhibition - History Matters: Treasures from Stonnington's Archives

Our first exhibition at the Northbrook Pop-Up Gallery – History Matters: Treasures from Stonnington's Archives – was a huge success, and hundreds of visitors shared their memories of the exhibits with us.

Although it has now closed, you can still view the descriptive exhibition catalogue