Australian Music Vault opens at Arts Centre Melbourne

ACM Australian Music Vault Costumes and PostersIn celebration of, and charting the story of contemporary Australian music from the 1950s until today, the Australian Music Vault has opened its doors to the public at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Featuring a free permanent exhibition, digital and interactive experiences and an extensive learning program, the Australian Music Vault showcases the iconic people, events and places that define Australian music in a purpose-built exhibition space.

The Victorian Government invested $8.3 million into the creation of the Australian Music Vault as a cornerstone of its Music Works policy and commitment to strengthening the state’s music industry and culture. “Melbourne is now the rightful host of what is a tremendous celebration of Australian music culture,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley.

“From the artists and songs of yesterday through to today’s music heroes – the Australian Music Vault belongs to the industry and to music-lovers of all kinds,” he added.

Designed to be organic and evolving, displays will be refreshed regularly to provide a broad brushstroke of the Australian music story, while exploring specific rotating themes in more depth and detail. This approach ensures with each visit there is something new to explore and learn. Themes are broad in scope with interlinking content encouraging visitors to create and discover unexpected connections across time periods and styles.

The Real Thing explores whether or not there really is an “Australian voice” by looking at musical influences, lyric composition and the impact of performance venues on the Australian “sound”. It celebrates the contribution of hit makers and heroes and highlights the contributions of lesser known but equally influential performers and industry personnel.

Items featured in this area include: handwritten and photocopied lyrics for To her Door by Paul Kelly; stage and performer passes for Sunbury Festival; tunic worn by Chrissy Amphlett of the Divinyls in the late 1980s, and drumsticks used by Kram from Spiderbait.

Australia’s music scene has been both significantly enriched by the contribution of its First Peoples and influenced by many music makers from around the globe who have made Australia their home. Two Way Traffic looks at the careers of the many performers who have helped put Australian music front and centre on the world stage.

Featured items include: jacket and trousers worn by Neil Finn of Split Enz; Top and skirt worn by Kylie Minogue in the In Your Eyes video; Maracas purchased by Peter Allen in Rio de Janeiro in 1977; Semi acoustic guitar used by Harry Vanda from The Easybeats and the school boy outfit worn by Angus Young of AC/DC.

Highlighting innovation and improvisation, from handmade instruments and recording equipment to role models and indie label stars, The Wild Ones uncovers the role of the trailblazers whose creative approaches to playing, recording, performing and distributing music have helped shape the Australian music industry.

Items showcased in this area include: a performance costume worn by Jimmy Little in the mid 1970s; a hat worn by Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum; Go-Set and Weekender magazines and photographs of and notebook belonging to Wendy Saddington.

Agents of Change delves into the role of music in responding to and affecting social change. Australian artists and bands have also been activists, uniters and drivers of progress, giving voice to some of the seminal issues to shape our culture, community and way of life in ways that many other civic and political leaders have been unable to capture.

Featured items include: Gold record award for Treaty by Yothu Yindi; Grammy Award received by Helen Reddy for I am Woman in 1972; Placards from the SLAM Rally; Rhyme book belonging to Urthboy and badges, flyers and press release from Stop the Drop concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in 1983.

Also featured is a series of displays highlighting the power of music to bring people together across socio-economic, political, gender and geographical boundaries and the notion of “musical tribes”. One of the first to be presented is Punk/New Wave – coinciding with the 40th anniversary of punk.

This area looks at identity, belonging and the pivotal period of Australian music between 1977–85, with a focus on performers, venues and do-it-yourself recording, distribution and publishing. Items on display include : guitar and amplifier used by Rowland S Howard; Fanzines Fast Forward, Pulp, Spurt and Oh Deadset and a costume worn by Deniz Tek of Radio Birdman.

The Australian Music Vault also features a special installation showcasing 2017 ARIA Hall of Fame Inductee Daryl Braithwaite and items from his personal collection.

Through the partnership with Spotify, the Australian Music Vault experience can be revisited and celebrated long after visitors leave the space as they are able to collate the music they encounter throughout the course of the exhibition to create a personal Mixtape playlist that they can keep. Artists involved in the exhibition will also curate their own “favourite Australian music” Spotify playlists, which fans can follow through the Australian Music Vault website.

The four founding patrons of the Australian Music Vault are co-founder of Mushroom Records Michael Gudinski, music legend Ian “Molly” Meldrum, songstress Kylie Minogue and Indigenous singer-songwriter Archie Roach. The Australian Music Vault has just announced, that Australian singer/songwriter Tina Arena now joins that list.

“The Australian Music Vault, which incorporates the ARIA Hall of Fame, has been established to care, protect and store the historical artefacts of our rich and diverse Australian music heritage,” said Founding Patron Michael Gudinski. “Our great Australian music artists finally have a true home. In the words of one of my dearest friends and co-patron Molly Meldrum: Do yourself a favour and visit the Australian Music Vault soon.”

The Australian Music Vault is open daily at Arts Centre Melbourne and is free to enter. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Costumes and Posters on display at the Australian Music Vault – photo by Rohan Shearn