Open House Melbourne: 10 Years of Inspiring Architecture

Open House Melbourne Duldig Studio MuseumCelebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2017, the annual Open House Melbourne takes place this weekend (29 & 30 July), offering the opportunity to explore some of the city’s most magnificent buildings that are not usually accessible to the public.

Over 200 buildings will open their doors this year, (84 are new this year), the Open House footprint has been extended further into new suburbs including Beaumaris, Bangholme, Brighton, Dandenong, Essendon, La Trobe, Mill Park and Ringwood. With so much on offer, we take a look at 10 buildings that have an arts-focus, that are worth checking out:

Arts Centre Melbourne – Performing Arts Collection Store
Take a journey through the nation’s performing arts history. The Collection is the largest and most significant collection of Australia’s performing arts history. Established in 1975, it is formally recognised as a State Collection, containing more than 610,000 items which document 200 years of performance across theatre, music, dance and opera. Through costumes, scripts, handwritten lyrics, designs, company ephemera and photographs, the collection tells the stories of our most illustrious performers and institutions.

Australian Tapestry Workshop
The Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) is the only tapestry studio of its kind in the country. It is also one of only a few worldwide dedicated to the production of hand-woven contemporary tapestries. Ranging from miniature to monumental, the tapestries are woven using the finest Australian wool, which is specially dyed on-site to a unique palette of 370 colours. Most of the ATW’s tapestries have been specially commissioned and hang in significant public buildings and collections.

Collingwood Arts Precinct including Circus Oz
The former Collingwood Technical School site has been a place of creativity, collaboration, and inspiration for more than 140 years. Now, a visionary project is set to transform the site into a thriving contemporary arts precinct. The Art Deco façade is well known to locals, but behind those doors lie a long-neglected treasure. In 2014, Circus Oz moved into the site, integrating existing buildings with purpose-built rehearsal and administration spaces. On the other half of the site, Contemporary Arts Precincts is in the process of creating and building a large-scale arts hub which will become a home to artists, arts organisations, and creative industries.

Duldig Studio Museum and Sculpture Garden
Duldig Studio is the remarkable house and studio of émigré sculptor Karl Duldig and his artist wife Slawa Horowitz-Duldig which is now an artists’ house museum. The Duldig family lived here in the typical Californian bungalow house for 30 years. Karl designed and built a studio in the grounds and set up a sculpture garden to display his works. In 1996, the house became a museum, with interiors and a studio preserved as they were during the artist’s lifetimes. Karl and Slawa’s Modernist art and furnishings can be seen in the family rooms and the gallery extension which features changing exhibitions.

Gertrude Contemporary
Gertrude Contemporary is a not-for-profit visual arts organisation that has been building the careers of early-practice and mid-career Australian artists through its exhibition and studio programs for over thirty years. For the first time since its founding in 1985, the organisation is moving to a new home. During Open House Melbourne, Gertrude will launch its new building, designed by architects Edition Office, to the public. Visitors will have their first opportunity to explore the new site as a whole, including the exhibition and studio spaces.

Grainger Museum
The only purpose-built autobiographical museum in Australia, it is home to a fascinating collection of art, photographs, costumes, furniture and instruments acquired by Percy Grainger (1882 – 1961), an icon of 20th century Australian musical history. Housed in a simple Modernist building designed by the then University architect John Gawler, of the firm Gawler and Drummond, the Grainger Museum was constructed in two stages between 1935 and 1939.

Myer Mural Hall
Completed in 1933, the Myer Mural Hall is a large rectangular space with a decorative plaster ceiling, balconies, and wall panels. It is one of the only surviving examples of the Streamline Moderne style and one of the finest Art Deco interiors in Victoria. is decorated with ten murals paying homage to celebrated historical female figures renowned in various fields, created by Napier Waller (1893-1972). He was a leading Neoclassical mural painter of the Inter-War period who remastered sketching and painting with his left arm after being wounded in WWI.

Heide II
Heide II is a building of exceptional cultural significance to Australia; a landmark in post-WWII domestic design that is intimately associated with the founders of Heide Museum of Modern Art, John and Sunday Reed. In 1963, the Reeds commissioned David McGlashan of McGlashan and Everist to plan and build a new home in the modernist style. Their brief was that the building should be romantic, have a sense of mystery, and a quality of space and natural light appropriate to a gallery. (Note: admission charges apply to Heide I & III)

The Dandenong Town Hall and Drum Theatre
Built in 1890, The Dandenong Town Hall is a superb example of a Victorian 19th century Town Hall. The building was designed by popular architects, Beswick and Hutchins, whose other credits include Brighton, Malvern, Essendon, and Hawthorn Town Halls. Originally built as a combined Shire Hall and Mechanics Institute, it also fulfilled the role of a public hall, court house, local library, and council chambers. In 2006, Dandenong Town Hall was reimagined and redeveloped into the 521-seat Drum Theatre – an anchor for the city’s vibrant arts community and attracts diverse audiences. The original façade is a distinctive reminder of its history.

One of the oldest substations in the metropolitan systems, and one of the largest, it displays an exceptionally high level of integrity not seen in any other examples of this substation design. Although much of the original equipment has been removed or vandalised, the building is highly demonstrative of early 20th century power generating practices. Today, The SUBSTATION is a multi-arts centre. One of Melbourne’s newest arts venues, the building houses the biggest visual arts gallery in the western suburbs, a dance studio, and a large-scale multi-purpose performance space.

The 2017 Open House Melbourne weekend takes place Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July. Some buildings require a booking. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Interior of Duldig Studio Museum (supplied)