The Heide Museum in Bulleen presents exhibitions and publications of modern and contemporary Australian and international visual arts, and has an important collection which represents the development of modernism in Australia.
John and Sunday Reed were patrons, publishers and champions of modern art from the 1930s until their deaths in 1981. In 1934 they purchased a farm near Heidelberg on the then outskirts of Melbourne, which they named Heide. John Reed was involved in the establishment of the Contemporary Art Society in 1938, and was its president in 1940-43 and 1953-58. In 1943 Reed was joined by poet Max Harris in establishing the book publishing firm of Reed & Harris. Along with the journal Angry Penguins and Ern Malley's Journal, Reed & Harris published new and experimental literature.
Heide became a meeting place for artists, writers, poets and intellectuals. It was notably the centre of the Angry Penguins' movement, and is crucial to understanding the development of 20th-century modern art in Australia.
In 1958 John Reed founded and was first director of the Museum of Modern Art of Australia (1958-66). Following its closure Sunday and John Reed commissioned architect David McGlashan to design a second house, Heide II, as 'a gallery to be lived in'. Judged 'Outstanding Building of the Year' by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 1968, it remains a significant example of modern domestic postwar architecture.
On 11 November 1981 Heide Park and Art Gallery was opened to the public with an inaugural exhibition of Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly Paintings, which had been painted in the dining room of Heide I in the late 1940s. Under the inaugural director, Maudie Palmer, a new museum building was constructed in 1993, designed by Andrew Andersons. This extension coincided with the name change to the Museum of Modern Art at Heide and represents the fulfilment of the Reeds' ambition for a museum of modern art for Melbourne.
Australian and international sculpture is permanently sited in Heide Park. Situated on the Yarra River, the extensive grounds include rare, exotic and native plants, and Sunday Reed's celebrated kitchen garden. Also of note is an Aboriginal scar tree, an old river red gum with an incision made by the Wurundjeri people.