Cast bronze sculpture of Alfred Felton by Peter Corlett

Highlighting the history, drama and idiosyncratic world of Alfred Felton, the Hotel Esplanade has ventured into the arts world by launching a pop-up contemporary museum called The Felton Museum, opening this Friday, 8 November. 

Detailing the curious world of Alfred Felton, who was a goldfield entrepreneur, self-taught pharmacist, committed art-lover and patron, benefactor of desolate women and children, and long-term resident of the Espy,  the museum celebrates the life of Alfred and sheds light on the little-known story of his impact on Melbourne’s high art and low living residents. The museum is accompanied by a week-long program of evocative storytelling, talks and adventures. 

Little known to most Melbournians, Felton lived at Hotel Esplanade from 1892 to 1904, and actually died on the premises. He is an unsung hero of the visual arts of Melbourne and a quiet benefactor to an extraordinary number of women and children in need. In the Felton Museum - a transformed space on the top floor of The Espy - you will discover his impact, his times, his passions and his progressive spirit through artefacts, film, audio stories, performances, readings and the collision of old and new art.

Other special events include:

  • Deadly (Maurial Spearim and Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir) A women’s only trip from The Espy to Point Nepean exploring the story of kidnap and escape of a St Kilda / Yaluk-ut Weelam woman from a sacred indigenous women’s place.

  • Biography Readings A live performance reading of extracts from Flinders Lane by Russell Grimwade and Mr Felton’s Bequests by John Poynter.

Storytelling Tours, Talks and Adventures

  • Art x Cocktails  An exploration of the links between the 11-original works of art that adorn the walls of The Gallery and Felton, set against guided tastings of the cocktails inspired by each artwork from the newly released Ghost Of Alfred Felton cocktail menu. 

  • Green Room Diaries (Brian Nankervis) Join us in a fly-on-the-wall account of the good, the bad and the ugly of the history of live music in the Gershwin Room. A personal account from a Gershwin Room alumni staged in an intimate dressing-room setting where what really goes down is revealed. Includes a special performance, taste of the rider and back stage visit to the Gershwin Room.

  • Burial Rites A virtual walk and talk through the historical graves of Alfred Felton, his friends and colleagues, set against the new world practice of online memorials. Commentary from those who really know the business of being dead and how it differs between 1904 and 2019. 

Left to right: Rupert Bunny painting (Felton was his patron from the outset) hangs in the Felton Museum, Art inspired cocktail that will be available at the Felton Museum, John Poynter, author,Mr Felton's Bequests(published MUP) in conversation with Matt Mullins and Janenne Willis.

  • The Ghosts of Hotel Esplanade Not your average ghost tour, this storytelling experience explores the ever-evolving Euro Yroke / St Kilda shoreline from pre-colonisation through to the current landscape where The Espy stands today. Over its 140 years The Espy has housed all manner of inhabitants, notorious incidents and former grand extensions now combined into a compelling storytelling hour while exploring what this iconic building has to offer.

  • Behind the Scenes History, music and mystery woven with stories and invitations into unseen spaces. See areas and learn stories never revealed to the public before from the tunnel in the cellar to its magical transformation today. Behind the Scenes is a compilation of fond memories and quirky anecdotes presented by third-generation St Kilda rock’n’roller Suzi Q P Dhol. 

  • Felton Story A treat for culture lovers, history buffs and those who like a good yarn, this storytelling experience illuminates the little-known life of former Hotel Esplanade resident Alfred Felton, Australia’s largest philanthropist to the arts.

See all The Felton Museum has to offer at the Hotel Esplanade this November!


Dates: 8 - 17 November 2019

Location: Hotel Esplanade, 11 The Esplanade, St Kilda

Cost: Admission costs may apply

Hotel Esplanade Website