A Guide to Melbourne's Australian Music Vault

Melbourne / (c) Shutterstock
Melbourne / (c) Shutterstock
Photo of Monique La Terra
11 December 2017

Turning up the volume on Australian music, Arts Centre Melbourne is set to open a new exhibition this month dedicated to the story of Australian contemporary music—past, present and future. The Australian Music Vault will feature a free exhibition, innovative digital participatory experiences, performances, educational programmes, and iconic objects from the Arts Centre’s Performing Arts Collection.

This ground-breaking exhibition was developed by Arts Centre Melbourne in collaboration with founding patrons Kylie Minogue, Archie Roach, Michael Gudinski and Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum, with funding through the Victorian Government’s $22.2 million Music Works initiative.

“Australia has a proud contemporary music history and a proud live music culture, especially here in Victoria. This is an important part of who we are and it’s something to celebrate” said Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley.

Celebrating the soundtrack of our lives, The Vault will feature memorabilia from Kylie Minogue, Molly Meldrum, AC/DC, Men at Work, Split Enz, Midnight Oil, The Seekers, Tina Arena, Olivia Newton-John, Johnny O’Keefe, Skyhooks, Daddy Cool, Divinyls, Paul Kelly, Jessica Mauboy, Dami Im, Cold Chisel, Missy Higgins, Silverchair, Bliss n Eso, John Farnham, Yothu Yindi, Nick Cave, Spiderbait, Courtney Barnett and many more.

In addition to the performers, songwriters, and musicians, the exhibition will recognise the producers, designers, promoters and roadies whose work has shaped the Australian music industry, as well as sharing stories from fans and those in the know.

Arranged thematically rather than chronologically or by genre, The Australian Music Vault will not only profile the contributions of performers but will also feature displays. These include a section dedicated to ARIA Hall of Fame inductees, showcasing their careers and achievements through memorabilia and digital content. There will also be a series of displays illustrating the universal power of music to unite people across socio-economic, political, gender and geographical boundaries.

Divinyls performing at Subiaco Oval on the Australian Made Tour, 1987. Photograph by Bob King, Gift of The Age, Australian Performing Arts Collection | Courtesy Arts Centre Melbourne

One of the Vault’s major themes, The Real Thing, will explore the notion of the “Australian Voice” by examining musical influences, lyric composition and the impact of Australian performance venues. Another theme will be the concept of ‘musical tribes’, beginning with Punk/New Wave, scheduled to coincide with the 40th anniversary of punk.

Punk Gunk, St Kilda, February 1977. Designed by Philip Brophy, Gift of Nick Cave. Australian Performing Arts Collection | Courtesy of Arts Centre Melbourne

Additionally, the Australian Music Vault will feature performances, programmes and events, as well an outreach programme for communities throughout Victoria.

The permanent exhibition, which is set to open for a minimum of three years, will inhabit the same space where the Kylie: On Stage exhibition was held in 2016, at Arts Centre Melbourne, Australia’s most popular performing arts centre. Arts Centre Melbourne also houses Australia’s foremost specialist collection, consisting of over 600,000 items spanning Australia’s circus, dance, music, opera and theatre heritage.

Hot pants worn by Kylie Minogue in ‘Spinning Around’ video, 2000 Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection | Courtesy of Arts Centre Melbourne

“The Australian Music Vault will bring all this to life, telling the stories of Australian music through the people and events who have shaped it and drawing on Arts Centre Melbourne’s extraordinary, internationally significant collection of music treasures. This project has been a long time coming, championed by many in our music industry, and we are pleased to be bringing it to life”, Foley said.

The Australian Music Vault will also be partnering with Spotify, the world’s largest and most successful music streaming service, in an interactive experience allowing visitors to collate a personalised playlist of the music they encounter while passing through the exhibition.

The Australian Music Vault will open at Arts Centre Melbourne on Tuesday, December 19, 2017.

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