Former hospital gives birth to Rusten House Art Centre

Published on 22 April 2021

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Queanbeyan’s former hospital, Rusten House, has been reborn as a restored art centre with NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro, John Barilaro and Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Mayor, Cr Tim Overall officially opening the new Rusten House Art Centre today.

Members of the arts community, historical society, healthcare services and families of key figures throughout the history of Rusten House joined project staff to witness the unveiling of a plaque to mark the official opening of the new art centre that has transformed the previously dilapidated building.

Mayor Overall said that Rusten House was an important part of Queanbeyan’s history after beginning life as a hospital in 1862.

“Many prominent families whose names are scattered across Queanbeyan’s history funded and contributed to the establishment and operation of Rusten House including the Gale, Campbell, Rutledge, Collett and Wright families.

“The building was constructed of local mixed stone and wood at the grand cost of 1,051 pounds.

“Local community fundraising initiatives including carnivals and balls helped keep Rusten House operating, even during the depression, until a new hospital was constructed and Rusten House was converted into nurses’ quarters,” Mayor Overall said.

Rusten House is named after Matron Rusten who was employed along with her husband to care for the ill of the district until 1875. It has had many purposes over the years including as a hospital, nurses’ quarters, a home to various allied health services and even a café. The building is strongly associated with one of the region’s most respected Aboriginal elders Queen Nellie Hamilton, who passed away in care on 1 January 1897.

“Today, Rusten House adds a new chapter in its long history and becomes a fantastic new arts facility that adds to the rich culture of Queanbeyan,” Mayor Overall concluded.

NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro said that today marks a significant milestone in the history of Queanbeyan.

“Rusten House has played a central role in Queanbeyan’s rich and proud history, and the new Rusten House Art Centre will serve our community for generations to come,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This newly refurbished space will be a major community asset with the centre able to hold exhibitions, performances and workshops.

“We knew that we had a big job ahead of us when it came to revamping this beautiful heritage listed property, and I’m so proud of what both NSW Government and QPRC have been able to achieve.” 

To complement the opening of the new centre an exhibition of the history of Rusten House will be on display until 15 June alongside the inaugural exhibit “QPRC Artscape - celebrating the diversity of artists in the region”, which features the works of nine local artists.

The restoration and transformation of Rusten House into a new art centre commenced in 2013 with a grant from the NSW Government Premier's Rural and Regional Grants Fund. It was further made possible through the Justice and Liquor NSW Infrastructure Grant Fund with matched funding from Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council and the NSW Government Stronger Communities Fund.

Rusten House Art Centre is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm.