The Cunningham Dax Collection

The Cunningham Dax Collection consists of over 15,000 works on paper, paintings, ceramics & textiles created by people with an experience of mental illness and/or psychological trauma.


To promote widely a greater understanding of people who experience mental illness and/or psychological trauma, and to foster an appreciation of their creativity through the preservation and ethical presentation of their original works.


Dr Eric Cunningham Dax began collecting these works in 1946 for the purposes of mental health research and education.

The Collection may be considered in two groups. The works in the first group, which make up over two thirds of the Collection, were created between the 1950s and 1980s in clinical settings where art making was encouraged as a form of rehabilitation, assessment or therapy. The works in the second group were made in private nonclinical settings and have been donated to the Collection by the creators or their families.

The Collection currently operates under the auspices of the Mental Health Research Institute with some financial support from the Mental Health Branch of The Department of Human Services of Victoria.