Boyce&Tart is an initiative that combines the original Boyce Gibson Library collection with the facilities and vision of Siteworks.

Professor Alexander Boyce Gibson and the Philosophy Society (a student organisation) established the Boyce Gibson Memorial Library in 1937. This space was the foundational effort in fulfilling Boyce Gibson’s vision for what a university should become. ‘The classroom is not enough’ was Boyce Gibson’s conviction for the role and importance of ‘the Gibbo’, as the Memorial Library became affectionately known.

The Boyce Gibson family name is synonymous with philosophy at the University of Melbourne. The Boyce Gibson Chair of Philosophy, founded in 1886 is in fact the oldest chair of philosophy in Australia. Both A. Boyce Gibson, and his father, W. R. Boyce Gibson, held the Chair. A. Boyce was for thirty-one years Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, and a member of both the International Institute of Philosophy, and the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

The collection comprises of classics, philosophical, theological and historical titles. Some of these titles are artefacts in their own right, having been gifted by individual commentators or researchers. Housed on campus for decades, the collection fostered a space that sustained individuals and a community enthused by thought and ideas.

Boyce&Tart is fortunate to have secured a residency at Siteworks and will contribute to the Siteworks mission by facilitating gatherings and events for hard-thinking Melbournians. Siteworks provides a range of resources, all of which are intended to develop community, creativity and discourse through skills sharing, ideas generation, workshops, project development, experimental teaching and technology-related development. Siteworks is auspiced by Moreland City Council and facilitated by The Projects.

The Boyce Gibsons were credited with engendering an open-spirit ethos of philosophising at the University of Melbourne. In like spirit, Boyce&Tart offers a focal point for open gatherings, drawing on the tradition and scholarly nature of the collection to engage minds in conversation and contemporary thought, and to explore the possibilities for tangible outcomes from these gatherings.

The Argus Saturday 20th November 1937

Around these gatherings, Boyce&Tart will operate a reference library for the Melbourne Philosophy community, providing a space dedicated to the love of wisdom within which Boyce Gibson’s aspiration that all ‘students could be free to discuss problems in their work’ may be realised.

Boyce&Tart was thrilled and grateful to acquire the libraries of eminent Australian philosophers Professor J.J.C Smart, AC, and Dr Len O’Neill. Acquisitions are invited from writers, thinkers and commentators to donate their own collections, artefacts and especial items, thereby maintaining the currency, scholarly and varied nature of the collection.

Past major benefactors of the collection include Archbishop Dr Eric D’Arcy, philosophy student Peter Newman and Professor David Lewis.


Dr D’Arcy (1924 – 2005) was a Reader in Philosophy and, at one stage, the head of department. Having taught philosophy at the University for two decades, the former Archbishop of Hobart was appointed a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Education, and was the first Australian-born philosopher to receive the Oxford doctorate.

Peter Newman studied undergraduate philosophy between 1990 and 1993. Newman’s love of philosophy was recognised through a bequest to the collection that also marked Newman’s untimely death.

Professor Lewis (1941 – 2001) was a widely renowned American scholar and reputed to be one of the top ten philosophers of the twentieth century. Professor Lewis was awarded an Honorary Degree in Literature from the University of Melbourne and was also an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Lewis returned to the University routinely over a quarter century and refused a private office preferring to work from the library instead. A great many of his most notable works were written in the Boyce Gibson library. This legacy is recognised annually by the annual Barry Taylor & David Lewis Philosophy Lecture. A portrait of Professor Lewis painted by Ormond College artist-in-residence and Philosophy graduate, Angela Brennan, overlooked the collection in the library’s later years.

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Financial and in-kind support of this initiative is warmly welcomed. Boyce&Tart recognises and sincerely thanks the SHAPS community and Reuse Centre, of the University of Melbourne, for making possible the fit-out of the Boyce&Tart space. 

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