Arts for All Appeal

Arts Centre Melbourne is the proud custodian of the Australian Performing Arts Collection (APAC), which is dedicated to the collection, preservation and interpretation of Australia’s circus, dance, music, opera and theatre heritage.

Collecting began in the late 1970s and today, the collection holds over 780,000 items, including major acquisitions from Dame Nellie Melba, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, Barry Humphries, Bell Shakespeare and The Australian Ballet.

Drawing on the APAC we tell the stories of performance through the extraordinary objects, from concept designs to costumes, from personal and production archives to photography.


Digital Exhibitions

Dancers on stage

Framing the Stage: The art of performance photography
In collaboration with Jeff Busby

In this online exhibition we invite you behind the scenes and behind the lens to explore images of performance through photographer Jeff Busby’s eyes. With him, we can find out what makes for a great performance photograph, what it takes to be a performance photographer, and how the evolving story of the performing arts is reflected in the photographic record.

Photo: Jeff Busby. Are We That We Are, Sydney Dance Company, 2010, digital photograph, courtesy Jeff Busby.

Explore



Drawn to Dance: A Journey Through Design

 

Drawn to Dance: A Journey Through Design
Curated by David McAllister, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet 2001-2020

As the longest serving Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister commissioned close to 40 new works for the company. Curated by McAllister himself, this dynamic digital exhibition showcases designs from the Australian Performing Arts Collection to present an illustrated reflection on the productions he generated for the company since 2001.

Explore

 

Grand: Costumes from the Dame Joan Sutherland Collection

 

Grand: Costumes from the Dame Joan Sutherland Collection

Grand is a dynamic and interactive online exhibition from the Australian Performing Arts Collection – using 3D models and macro photography to create rich digital content. Explore Dame Joan Sutherland's iconic costume details in close-up, unearth historical facts and view rare footage from past performances.

Explore



Spotlight

Dame Joan Sutherland Opera Australia Documentation Project

Go behind the scenes and discover how our dedicated team worked together to acquire, document, preserve and make accessible over 500 objects including multi-part costumes, accessories, designs and ephemera from the Dame Joan Sutherland Collection.



Uncover the Collection

Explore the intricate details of costumes and objects, and discover fascinating stories of great Australian artists.


Dance

Dance

 

Circus

Circus

 

Opera

Opera

 

Music

Music

 

Theatre

Theatre

 

Art Collection

Art Collection

 

Featured Stories

The costume crown worn by John Bell in the title role of ‘King Lear’, made in the Russian style, and covered in red velvet, jewels and pearls.

Bell Shakespeare In Focus

As Arts Centre Melbourne prepares to welcome Bell Shakespeare back into our theatres in 2022, we revisit some of the company’s striking costumes from the Australian Performing Arts Collection.

Read more



A woman in a lavendar 1800s-style dress looks at a man dressed in a royal Siam costume - they are performing in a production of 'The King and I'.

Celebrating The Production Company

For 21 years, The Production Company has been an important part of the performing arts community and a valued presenter at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Read more



A close-up of Ossie Ostrich's face showing his puppet eyes and part of his orange beak.

Ossie and Friends

Celebrating 50 years since Ossie Ostrich appeared on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, we shine a light on an icon of Australian entertainment and explore an artform that has brought laughter and wonder to generations of audiences.

Read more



A stylised painting of the set design by Louis Kahan for The Consul, 1953 (detail).

Louis Kahan: A Celebrated Life in Art and Design

Discover the life and career of Louis Kahan AO, as curator Dr Steven Tonkin explores Arts Centre Melbourne’s rich collection of artworks and designs by the celebrated artist.

Read more



Arthur Boyd's painting, ‘The Actor’, 1984, being brush vacuumed by conservator Sadra Zekrgoo.

Caring for our Public Art Collection

Art preservation is a careful and fascinating process that involves a range of specialist conservators. Watch as our Collections team explain how we care for the beautiful artworks from our Public Art Collection.

Read more



Dancers at the Tivoli Theatre, Melbourne, c.1955. They are fixing their headdresses and smiling. 

The Dressing Room

The dressing room is no ordinary place – enter the world of the performing arts through a timeless collection of photographs of this sacred space. Peek behind the scenes and see how performers have prepared to hit the stage.

Read more



A hand-coloured photo of Gladys Moncrieff 

LGBTIQ+ heritage in the Australian Performing Arts Collection

Stories of Australian singer Gladys Moncrieff and the Melbourne production of The Boys in the Band spotlight the importance of LGBTIQ+ performer, audiences and fans to the cultural heritage of Victoria.

Read more



ABC 7.30 Report feature on the Australian Performing Arts Collection

Inside the Australian Performing Arts Collection

The ABC’s 7.30 visited the Australian Performing Arts Collection to uncover some truly amazing objects. Watch the full story with Samantha Hamilton – Head of Collections, Preservation and Access, and Janine Barrand – Director of the Australian Performing Arts Collection.

Image credit: 7.30 Report

Watch


Archie Roach on stage for Live at the Bowl 

Playing the Bowl: Archie Roach

We reflect on one of the remarkable highlights from Live at the Bowl – Archie Roach’s performance of Tell Me Why. He moved audiences and showed that physical distance does not have to create emotional distance.

Read more


Craig Holmes captured the scene backstage as the cast prepared for their show

Legends of drag

Discover the flamboyant and fabulous history of drag from the legendary Pokeys drag show in St Kilda.

Read more

 

Go to the top