Callaway Centre

A vibrant archive and research centre for music, music education, musicology, performance practice, broadcasting, arts, culture and society.

Who we are

The Callaway Centre is the Conservatorium of Music’s archives and research centre, and part of the University of Western Australia’s family of significant cultural collections.

Its foundations date back to 1984 when Sir Frank Callaway, Foundation Professor of the School of Music and Head and internationally regarded music educator and musician, donated his professional library and personal papers upon his retirement from the University. This inspired the establishment of a music archives and research repository in which this and other donations could be housed. The Callaway International Resource Centre for Music Education (CIRCME) was officially launched and opened in 1989, with Frank Callaway remaining committed to the growth and development of the Centre until his death in 2003.

The Centre went on to attract and secure other collections from Western Australia and around the globe to become home to an impressive range of sound and visual recordings, paper-based documents, photographs, objects, artefacts, monographs and personal memorabilia. Its collections date from the mid-19th century to the present day and feature many influential and significant musicians, artists, performers, educators, music collectors and historians.

Renamed the Callaway Centre when it moved to its new home at the historic Park Avenue Building in 2004, it has become an invaluable resource for a broad range of academic research and investigation, for creative inquiry and exploration, for exhibitions and publications as well as for those with personal connections to and interests in the people and stories represented in the collections.

The Centre acknowledges the investments of and the agreements made with The University of Western Australia and its donors as well as its patrons and funding bodies.

The resource centre is absolutely essential to my research and I could not have had a more positive experience.
Megan Barret-Lennard, UWA Choral Society.

What we do

The Callaway Centre is both a repository and a research and inquiry resource for students, academics, researchers and the general public attracted to its unique collections and diverse activities. Its collections of Western Australian, national and international origin cover a broad range of interests including music, music education, musicology, performance practice, broadcasting, musical theatre, opera, as well as aspects of the entertainment industry, culture and society more generally.

The Centre also offers skills-based learning, placements and engagement opportunities. University Work Integrated Learning (WIL) internships are available throughout the academic year as well as over the extended summer break. Internships offered range from experience in conservation, collection management, digitisation and historical research. Information about WIL internships is available here.

Volunteers are also welcome to support and assist the Centre in its conservation, documentation and research activities.

The Centre is also available to assist with inquiries regarding potential donations to its archives.

As a hub for local, national and international research and engagement, the Centre directly supports the University’s mission to advance, transmit and sustain knowledge and understanding through the conduct of research and scholarship at the highest international standards.

Overall, my experience of the Centre was a deeply educational and enjoyable one; there was ample opportunity to gain practical skills in collection management, object-handling, and to meet and talk with others engaging with the Centre (as researchers, digitisers, etc.). Elly Langford, WAAPA PhD Candidate.

Who we've helped

  • Percy Grainger Society, New York
  • Queens University, Belfast
  • Grace Gibson Productions, NSW
  • Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
  • Darren Gray Management UK
  • RMIT University, Victoria
  • University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ
  • Sydney Conservatorium of Music, NSW
  • Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, WA
  • Mt Evelyn History Group, Victoria
  • University Western Australia Choral Society
These journals will be so very helpful to many researchers including myself. I so appreciate the time you’re taking to get these to me. Thanks so much. All the Best. Bill Garlette, Percy Grainger Society, New York

Explore our collections

The Callaway Centre holds a vast range of materials and formats including personal and professional papers of notable musicians, performers and educators, material gathered by passionate collectors and historians, original scores and manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs, film, scholarly papers, organisational archives and personal mementos as well as journals, monographs, music and recording catalogues and bibliographic information.

Collections represent many notable musicians, artists and academics and have been donated directly as well as through their families. They include  Sir Frank Callaway, John Blacking, Eileen Joyce, Percy and Ella Grainger, Hugh McMahon, Roger Smalley, Rudolph Werther, Irene Kohler. In 2000 a significant private collection of Australian music and performing arts heritage was secured through the generous benefaction of Japanese philanthropist, Dr Haruhisa Handa, which added impressively to the variety and range of the Callaway Centre holdings.

The Centre collections are available from UWA Collected, an online discoverable platform for the University’s diverse and rich cultural and archival collections. The first academic platform of its kind in WA, UWA Collected makes collections such as the Callaway Centre’s available not just to our local communities and researchers but to those around the world.


Edison cylinders 

Callaway Centre collections

Current projects and activities


Since the opening of the Digitisation Centre of WA (DCWA) in 2020, the Callaway Centre has been working through an ongoing program of digitising its collection. An important element of the relationship between the Callaway Centre and DCWA is based on the Centre being largely a sound archive, therefore digitising its sound recordings is critical and having a significant impact at many levels – from preservation to access. Unlike the paper and object-based aspects of the collections where people can readily view the items, the Callaway Centre is keen to ensure the “sounds” of its collection also available to its visitors and researchers. Digitisation is also important in ensuring that formats reliant on technologies that are slowly becoming redundant and prone to declining quality, such as VHS tapes and audio cassettes, will also be captured and remain accessible. With DCWA preserving the sound, the Centre can focus on preserving the physical carrier.


I have been able to download a sound archive of 'An authentic and unique record of Jacko the broadcasting kookaburra' from your collection and would like to use it in future displays for the Mt Evelyn History Group. We have a project acknowledging Dr Brooke Nicholls who is featured on the record…We would acknowledge the Centre, of course. (Dr) Janice Newton, Mt Evelyn History Group, Victoria

Digitisation Centre of Western Australia

Significance assessment of historic phonograph cylinders

The Callaway Centre has recently received a National Library of Australia Community Heritage Grant to undertake a significance assessment of its large collection of phonograph cylinders. With more than 3,400 wax and celluloid cylinders, which came with the acquisition of the Australian Performing Arts Collection, these historic recordings capture a variety of vocal and instrumental music, voice and sound dating from the 1890s through to the1920s. The funds have supported engaging the services of PhD candidate David Friedrichs, who has extensive knowledge of the technology and history behind the phonograph cylinders, to work with the Centre Manager, Helen Munt, in the assessment. The project will be completed by mid-2024.  

Callaway Lecture Series

Inaugurated in 1988 as part of the University's 75th Anniversary celebrations, the Callaway Lecture Series has gone on to become one of the most prestigious events on the Conservatorium of Music calendar.

Since the Lecture Series began, a host of distinguished speakers from all walks of life and around the world have taken the podium to deliver their reflections on a broad range of music-inspired propositions on historical and contemporary themes.

Copies of the lecture papers are available from the Callaway Centre.

Frank Callaway Foundation for Music

In recognition of the worldwide achievements of Sir Frank Callaway in the year of his retirement, the Frank Callaway Foundation for Music was established by the University in 1984.

The aim of the Foundation was to pursue, encourage and stimulate music and music education activities both within Australia and internationally.

Since its establishment, donations and gifts to the Foundation have been received from the many people who admired and benefited from Sir Frank's achievements and who support and enjoy the activities of the Conservatorium of Music and the Callaway Centre.

Past events, projects and activities

A Musical Ramble, 2023

In 2023, the Callaway Centre participated in the City of Perth Boorloo Heritage Festival. Devised as a guided tour of the campus, the Musical Ramble took visitors on a sensory stroll exploring the stories of the music that has been performed, studied, created and enjoyed around the university campus for nearly 100 years. The event was highlighted by a variety of live musical interludes presented by St George’s College Music Consortium, Conservatorium students, and the Palastrina singers performed at key locations including the Callaway Auditorium, Somerville Auditorium and New Fortune Theatre. 


Creative projects like the Musical Ramble provide extra opportunities to highlight the importance and uniqueness of the archive in a more accessble manner. It is not only finding new ways to engage the public with the archive, it is also providing extra performance opportunities for keen, talented, young musicians wanting to engage with a wider community. David Woods, Director of Music St George’s College


Smalley at Large Festival, 2023

In 2023, the Conservatorium of Music hosted the “Smalley at Large Festival” to celebrate the life and work of internationally recognised pianist, Avantgarde modernist composer and UWA academic Roger Smalley for what would have been his 80th birthday. As part of the festival, the Callaway Centre installed an exhibition in the Reid Library showcasing material from its Roger Smalley archives. A tour of the Callaway Centre was also given for local and international delegates attending the Smalley Symposium and presentation of more of the Smalley archives. 

CIRCME and Matilda Music Press

For many years the Callaway Centre included a publishing arm for quality academic books on music and music education. Named CIRCME after the former name of the Callaway Centre (Callaway International Resource Centre for Music Education), it established an impressive international network of music educators and key institutions, and published more than 50 titles, either under its own imprint or that of its specially created music publishing house, Matilda Music Press. Many of these titles were published in association with peak bodies such as the International Society for Music Education (ISME) and the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME) thereby expanding its international network and capacity to publish quality materials at non-commercial prices. This in turn facilitated research and community outreach.

In the early 2000s, the publications arm of the Centre was divested. Although publishing ceased functioning, the publications are still proving valuable resources in music education, musicology and performance and copyright royalties help to support the operations of the Callaway Centre.

All CIRCME and Matilda Music Press publications are held by the Callaway Centre.

Blacking Collection Project 2006-2013

The project aims were to make the internationally recognised John Blacking Collection available to researchers by processing the collection to archival standards and to share materials from the collection for use in educational and public sector settings. Work began in 2006 on the essential and extensive task of processing the collection using archival standards.

While the material in the Blacking Collection focuses largely on Blacking’s ethnomusicological fieldwork among the Venda people in South Africa in the late 1950s, it also includes fieldwork data from other regions of South Africa, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Uganda, and Ireland. Many of the papers have further significance as a representation of the various professional, academic and civic activities this scholar was engaged in throughout his life.

The project’s key outcomes included:

  • Research publications utilising archival materials and contemporary studies influenced by Blacking’s activities as dance and music scholar, composer, and social activist, directed by Jane Davidson between 2006 and 2013
  • Establishment of links with communities in which Blacking worked in South Africa, conducted primarily by Andrea Emberly, Research Fellow at UWA between 2009 and 2012
  • Indexing of audio data produced by Blacking between 1956 and 1966 by senior visiting research fellow Jennifer Post
  • An exhibition of photographs and recordings from the Blacking Collection at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery in November 2013


I’m very grateful to the Callaway Centre for caring for the Blacking collection. In my assessment, it counts as one of the most crucial South African collections and will prove indispensable to future research on aesthetic education in the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape. Premesh Lalu, Research Professor and Former Director, Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape


Preserving Australia's Sound Heritage 2004-2007

This project, funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), involved the reclamation of Australia’s musical heritage to enrich musicological, socio-musical and historical accounts of Australian society, and was a collaboration with the University of Western Australia and Monash University. The project involved creating a web-based research infrastructure in support of two major music archival collections: the University of Western Australia’s Handa (Australian Performing Arts) Collection and the Australian Archive of Jewish Music at Monash University.

Important music archive resources were made available to researchers through the use of web-based methods of delivery and universally and easily available online access. The link to the National Library’s acclaimed music sharing resource Music Australia has ensured that the project outcomes are available to the broader community as well as to the community of scholars.

Sound Footings 2006-2007

Sound Footings was the second stage of the 2004 ARC-funded project, Preserving Australia’s Sound Heritage. Two further collections were added that included print documents in multiple formats as well as historic sound recordings. Using infrastructure based at the Callaway Centre, UWA fostered Australian music research through the cataloguing, preservation, digitising and digital archiving of the Eileen Joyce Collection.

These additional music archive resources are available to researchers through UWA Collected and the Asian-Australian Music Collection.

Get in touch

The Callaway Centre is open on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Visits can be arranged by appointment.

Map marker Map marker


M413 Conservatorium of Music and Callaway Centre