Museum Victoria's Planetarium at Scienceworks, 2000. | Courtsey Scienceworks
Living up to its title of Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne has an abundance of museums that seek to educate and entertain. From the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere to a purpose built facility that strives to understand the mysteries of the universe, the museums in Melbourne are dedicated to preserving musical legacy, medical achievements, sporting triumphs, digital culture and our multi-cultural identity.
Adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Building in the Carlton Gardens is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere. At Melbourne Museum you can discover the origin of life in Victoria over 600 million years, roam amongst prehistoric creatures, check out the bugs, and explore the seas in the Science and Life Gallery, and enter the nest of ancestral spirit Bunjil in the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. The museum also features a living Forest Gallery and many other exhibits as well as IMAX Melbourne.
Through emotive exhibitions, Melbourne’s Immigration Museum investigates Victoria’s multicultural identity. Located within Victoria’s Old Customs House, the museum explores the eventful and at time harrowing immigrant stories through exhibits such as Leaving Home, Journeys of a Lifetime and Getting In. The museum also features a Discovery Centre where you can trace your genealogical history and a Tribute Garden.
Linking ‘Melbourne’s industry, heritage and applied technology’, Scienceworks is a place where inquisitive minds can ask why and discover how. See an electrifying presentation in the Lighting Room, voyage into deep space at the Planetarium, discover the dynamics of human movement and race against Olympic champion Cathy Freeman in Sportwoods, and tour the century-old Pumping Station.
Situated within the walls of the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Sports Museum celebrates Australian sport and the history of the MCG. The museum features the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame and Australian Football Hall of Fame, as well as sporting memorabilia, holograms, and interactive experiences.
Endeavoring to preserve and promote ‘the artistic and cultural heritage of ancient and modern Greece’, the Hellenic Museum holds a vast collection of artifacts. See Cypriot pottery, cast ancient Greek statues, and check out Bill Henson’s photographic installation ONEIROI.Starting in 2014, for 10 years the Hellenic Museum will also house a priceless collection of antiquities from the Benaki Museum, Athens, showcasing 8,000 years of Greek civilisation to Melbourne.
Grainger Museum under construction) Percy Grainger and F Hansen on museum scaffolding. Credit: Ella Grainger with Percy Grainger annotations, 1938 | Courtsey Grainger Museum
Australia’s only autobiographical museum opened in 1938 under the strict instruction of the eccentric Australian composer and pianist Percy Grainger who longed for immortality through musical legacy and a dedicated museum. Throughout its history, the museum has acquired over 100,000 items including published scores and manuscripts, mementos, diaries, letters, photographs and 250 fascinating musical instruments.
Established with the purpose of better understanding western medicine, the Medical History Museum traces more than 400 years of Western medicine through a collection of over 7,000 pieces. Donated by Melbourne Medical School alumni and the public, the collection includes artifacts, doctor’s records, scientific instruments and equipment, and research material. The museum also holds a reconstruction of the Savory and Moore Pharmacy which was relocated from London in 1968.
Located in Chinatown, the Chinese Museum is dedicated to preserving the heritage and culture of the Australian Chinese community. Also acting as Chinatown’s visitors centre, the museum features three permanent exhibitions: Finding Gold, Dragon Gallery and Chinese Australian History. Over five floors you’ll see textiles, photographs and artefacts including The Millennium Dai Loong Dragon – the largest Chinese dragon in the world.
Melbourne’s iconic monument was built as a memorial to honour all those who served during World War I and all Australians who have since served in military conflict and peacekeeping operations. Open daily, visitors can wander through reflective exhibition spaces including Galleries of Remembrance, The Victoria Cross and Gallery of Medals and see over 800 objects including photos, uniforms and historical artefacts.
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image is ‘Australia’s only national museum of film, video games, digital culture and art,’ and features two cinemas, exhibition spaces and the permanent and ever-evolving exhibit Screen Worlds. See Cate Blanchett’s Oscar, props from Baz Lurhmann’s Moulin Rouge and costumes from Kylie Minogue, Dame Edna and Heath Ledger. Visit the Time Slice room, gawk at the Zoetrope and discover the magic behind the moving image and digital culture.
For 87 years, Victoria’s Old Melbourne Gaol housed minor offenders and notorious criminals including gangster Squizzy Taylor. Among those executed were bushranger Ned Kelly and Jack the Ripper suspect Frederick Bailey Deeming. Today, the prison operates as a museum where visitors can see death masks, Kelly gang weapons and memorabilia from prisoners and staff. Visitors can also explore the complex including the gallows by candlelight on one of the frightful night tours.