Arts Centre Melbourne’s Australian Performing Arts Collection to open to the public

by | Oct 21, 2022

Historically significant performing arts costumes and objects, ranging from Kylie Minogue’s gold lame hotpants to Dame Nellie Melba’s La Traviata bodice, will be made available to the public to view in 2023 through a $2.2 million project to upgrade and expand Arts Centre Melbourne’s Australian Performing Arts Collection (APAC).

Unveiled today by the Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos, MP, the Collections’ Reveal project will provide public access to some never-before-seen objects and costumes through a first of its kind behind-the-scenes visitor experience.

The new space designed by Melbourne-based Williams Ross Architects is set to open in June 2023 and will feature an upgraded and expanded storage to increase capacity for the Collection’s more than 780,000 items, ranging from costumes and accessories, designs and set models, props, photographs and scrap books, posters, programs, archives and audio and visual material. It will feature the Collection’s first ever conservation lab to preserve items onsite, and an enhanced photographic studio to continue digitisation and build on the development of online exhibitions.

Funded by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and philanthropists Virginia and Harry Boon and Maxwell and Merle Carroll Bequest, a key part of the design is an internal street allowing visitors to see curators, conservators, registrars, research, and exhibitions teams working on the collection, as well as objects and costumes in built-in display cases and 2D works on the wall. The intention is not to mimic or replace a gallery environment, but to provide ‘windows’ into what it takes to develop, manage, preserve, and share a State Collection.

International pop music superstar Kylie Minogue said she was thrilled her extensive collection within the Australian Performing Arts Collection would be shared with the community.

“The Australian Performing Arts Collection is home to more than 1000 items from my career including costumes and accessories.  I am so thankful that with the help of the expert and passionate Collections team, these items can be shared with generations to come.  It’s so exciting that fans, music and history lovers will be able to see some of them up close and personal amongst so many other treasures housed in the new space,” said Minogue.

One of Kylie’s iconic costumes – her Museum Dress – is set to be among ten treasured pieces from the Australian Performing Arts Collection that will be on display when the new space opens in 2023. A suite of online stories about these items will be published on Arts Centre Melbourne’s website from November.

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Image:Mark Gambino

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