The University of Melbourne has today launched Buxton Contemporary, the new purpose-built home for one of Australia's most significant contemporary art collections.

Located within Melbourne's Southbank arts precinct and embedded at the University of Melbourne's Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Buxton Contemporary provides a home and broad cultural context for the extraordinary art collection of Melbourne property developer and passionate art collector Michael Buxton.

Buxton Contemporary, designed by leading Australian architects Fender Katsalidis, features a teaching space and additional five galleries designed to showcase what is largely recognised as one of Australia's most significant collections of contemporary Australian art.

The Michael Buxton Collection was first established in 1995 with a focus on creating a museum-quality art collection based around six major Australian artists.

It has grown to encompass more than 300 works by 58 artists at the forefront of contemporary art practice. Artists featured include Howard Arkley, Mike Parr, Tracey Moffatt, Bill Henson, Patricia Piccinini, Pat Brassington, Marco Fusinato and Daniel von Sturmer.

In 2014, in a landmark philanthropic gesture valued in excess of $26 million gifted through Believe - the Campaign for the University of Melbourne, Michael Buxton donated the collection as well as the funds to build a new museum, an endowment and further operational support for a 20 year period.

The inaugural exhibition, The shape of things to come, has been curated by Melissa Keys and features works by more than 20 artists from the Buxton collection.

The exhibition explores the various roles and agencies of the artist through culture, society and politics - as visionaries, storytellers, dissenters and alchemists. Included are major works by Ricky Swallow, Emily Floyd, Hany Armanious and Mikala Dwyer among many others.

Future programming will use the Michael Buxton Collection as a springboard to captivate and educate audiences on trends in contemporary art and connect Australian contemporary practice to international developments.