A first-of-its-kind collection is coming to Melbourne featuring some of the most treasured pop culture items

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A first-of-its-kind collection is coming to Melbourne featuring some of the most treasured pop culture items

From Kylie Minogue’s gold hotpants to Nick Cave’s notebook, a new $2.2 million Australian Performing Arts Collection space at Hamer Hall will showcase the nation’s largest performing arts collection to the public eye.

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).

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.

Brighten your day with all the latest art news and upcoming exhibitions here.

The new space 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 made famous by the biggest names in Australia’s entertainment industry, ranging from costumes and accessories, designs and set models, props, photographs and scrapbooks, 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. It also features a glass-cased exhibition ‘laneway’ where visitors can view collection items.

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. Through guided tours, programs, events and activations, 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.

Designed by Melbourne-based Williams Ross Architects, the Australian Performing Arts Centre Collections space is the first storage, research and education facility of its kind in the southern hemisphere.


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“Victoria is home to Australia’s largest, most star-studded performing arts collection, full of gems that celebrate our rich history of entertainment and our greatest talents,” said Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos.

“This new space 
revolutionises collections care through state-of-the-art facilities, while offering a compelling new behind-the-scenes experience for visitors. It’s another fantastic offering unique to our creative state,” Minister Dimopoulos said.

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.

Other significant items in the collection include notebooks compiled by Nick Cave; a tutu worn by Justine Summers in Divergence, The Australian Ballet, 1994; Wirth’s Circus scrapbook compiled by Charles West, c.1905 – 1940s; Costume designs by Roger Kirk for the role of Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz; Spectacles worn with the Fish Dress by Barry Humphries as Edna Everage; and Ossie Ostrich puppet from television program Hey Hey It’s Saturday, c1972; among others.

The Australian Performing Arts Collection opens to the public in June 2023.

For more info, head here