Australian Music Vault celebrates five years of musical storytelling

AAR ACM Australian Music Vault photo by Mark GambinoThe Australian Music Vault (AMV) is celebrating its fifth birthday as it continues to play an important role in connecting Victorian, national and international visitors of all ages and walks of life with the ever-changing world of Australian contemporary music.

“For five years the Australian Music Vault has been working hard to amplify the stories of Australian contemporary music through our constantly evolving exhibition space and digital experiences. Through our continued collaboration with the music industry, we will continue to cement our place as a must-visit Melbourne location,” said Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Karen Quinlan AM.

The AMV opened its doors to the public in 2017 as the brainchild of the late great Michael Gudinski AM and is a key initiative of the Victorian Government’s Music Works initiative, developed by Arts Centre Melbourne in support and collaboration with the music industry.

“Melbourne is Australia’s music capital and one of the great music cities of the world. From celebrating music pioneers to the performers who power our music industry today, the Australian Music Vault is the place to celebrate, discover and share our music story,” said Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos.

“What started as an industry idea, evolved into a permanent exhibition of Australia’s musical and cultural heritage, with the Vault an initiative we’ve been proud to back every step of the way – ensuring our rich musical heritage is conserved and celebrated for Victorians now and for generations to come.”

Since opening its doors, the AMV has welcomed just under 2 million visitors to the exhibition, represented over 250 artists, had over 650 objects on display and welcomed over 140 schools into the space.

The free, permanent exhibition showcases iconic objects from the Australian Performing Arts Collection alongside an ongoing calendar of creative learning programs, public events, live performances, bus tours, associated programs, exhibition changeovers, touring exhibitions and digital experiences demonstrating just how integral contemporary music is to this country.

The objective of the AMV is to highlight objects linked by theme, not chronology or genre, in four different ways. From an exploration of the Australian voice and the notion of the Australian sound in The Real Thing, to Two Way Traffic that put the spotlight on performers who helped put Australian music on the world stage, to the Agents of Change who have long been at the forefront of public debate addressing concerns and issues that impact society, and The Wild Ones who have improvised, innovated and followed sparks of intuition to propel the home-grown industry in new and exciting directions.

Some of the artists represented in the AMV include Baker Boy, Dami Im, Deborah Conway, John Farnham, Missy Higgins, Mo’Ju, Nick Cave, Olivia Newton-John, Tash Sultana and Tony Cohen.

But it is perhaps the role of music during the global pandemic – and the way the music community responded – that is the most compelling of narratives that the AMV leant so deeply into. The pandemic unearthed new challenges for the live performance industry but finding stories of resilience was the AMV’s focus.

In a video series called Banding Together, stories were captured, in real time, telling the impact that the pandemic had on the music community with real, heartfelt and authentic stories from leading figures including Dan Rosen, Emily Ulman, Martin Foley MP and Lord Mayor Sally Capp.

The AMV and Arts Centre Melbourne also created a digital concert series called Vault Sessions, which gave artists the chance to not only perform, but be paid for their work. With much of the entertainment industry on hold at this time, Vault Sessions emerged as a particularly special opportunity to perform during lockdown.

A decision was made to showcase artists who make a strong statement – blazing their own distinctive paths in the music industry. These included Alice Skye, Ziggy Ramo, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks and The Teskey Brothers who partnered with Orchestra Victoria.

Outside of these, the AMV’s ongoing Long Play Series features long-form interviews with some of the country’s most influential trailblazers and unsung heroes and has been viewed collectively by over 250,000 people. Some of the incredible artists who have opened up about their lives include Emma Donovan, Glenn Wheatley, Peter Garrett, Colin Hay, Dr Lou Bennett and Courtney Barnett.

The AMV’s reach and impact is founded in the tapestry of Australian music history that plays on throughout the generations. It is a celebration of the Australian contemporary music story – past, present and future; a place to explore your love of music, revisit some of the big music moments of your life and discover the exciting new stories of today’s Australian music scene.

The AMV founding patrons are legendary music industry figures Ian “Molly” Meldrum AM, Kylie Minogue AO OBE, Tina Arena AM and the late Archie Roach AM and Michael Gudinski AM.

The Australian Music Vault is open daily. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The Australian Music Vault – photo by Mark Gambino