This year, Griffith University celebrates 140 years of teaching at the Queensland College of Art (QCA) 

QCA can trace its history back as far as 1849 as an informal drawing school but by February 1881 organised formal teaching began at the then Brisbane School of Arts; the school was located in Ann Street, in a building which was originally designed as servants quarters

This makes QCA one of Australia’s oldest art training colleges. For several decades, QCA was an ‘art department’ as part of Queensland’s Technical College system (think today’s TAFE colleges!).  At the time of this merger the school became the largest teaching department of Queensland’s Technical College system 

Black and white photograph of a large two-storey building surrounded by a white-picket fence.

Brisbane School of Arts established in 1849. Source: State Library of Queensland.

By 1971, QCA became the ‘College of Art’ and an individual entity. This period saw QCA expand the courses it offered. For the first time, students could study Fine Art, Graphic Design, Printmaking, Ceramics, Gold and Silversmithing, Animation, Film and Video. In 1976, QCA offered Queensland’s first Diploma of Arts course. 

Three people are in the forefront with drawing utensils and paper in front of them on an industrial table. Other people are seen in the background at their own tables with their own drawing utensils.  

Students in class (1976) when QCA was based at Morningside in Brisbane. Source: Griffith Archive.

The 1980s saw dramatic changes to the tertiary education landscape in Australia. As the decade endedmost of Australia’s art colleges had become part of universities. QCA would follow this trend and became an official part of Griffith University on 1 January 1992.  

Today, our College of Art offers one of the most extensive visual arts programs in the country and is home to the largest university film school in Australia—Griffith Film School. 

Unlock the history of our University via the Griffith Archive website. 

A person wearing a red jacket and holding a red sign that reads, ‘Queensland College of Art’ in white text. 

A Griffith University student conducting a campus tour at the 2019 QCA Open Day. Source: Griffith Archive.