The Australian Music Vault – a celebration of contemporary music

The Australian Music Vault has been developed by Arts Centre Melbourne (ACM), in consultation with the music industry, as a celebration of Australian contemporary music – past, present and future. It’s online, it’s exhibitions, it’s from those in the ‘music know’ sharing their knowledge, memories and collections with everyone.

It’s a place to explore your love of music, revisit some of the big music moments of your life, share those memories and discover the exciting new stories of today’s Australian music scene.

The Vault celebrates our Australian music ‘Hall of Famers’, our music talent from the songwriters, musicians, performers, designers, producers, promoters, roadies and the stories of the many fans. Everyone who has helped put Australian music on the map…and allowed it to become the soundtrack to our lives.

In this edition of Hotel Today, we gain an ‘access all areas pass’ to speak with Janine Barrand, Director of Collections at ACM. Janine shares her thoughts on what visitors to the Australian Music Vault can expect to see and experience during their visit.

HT: What can Australian music lovers expect to see and experience when planning their visit to the Australian Music Vault?

JB: Visitors will have an immersive experience and will have the chance to view iconic objects such as costumes, photographs, instruments and more. They will also be able to deep dive into specially commissioned interviews with members of the Australian music scene – all in celebration of Australia’s rich contemporary music heritage.


HT: How has music from different eras and genres been incorporated to provide an immersive and diverse experience for visitors?

JB: The Australian Music Vault covers the period from the 1950s through until today- and we also do look to the future as well.

We have approached this story through themes rather than chronologically- that is because contemporary music doesn’t have a beginning and end point, it is an evolving story and taking this approach allows us to add stories and also introduce new content regularly.

We will explore specific genres within the Australian Music Vault, one of the first we will focus on is Punk/New Wave- which is very exciting given it’s the 40th anniversary of this genre. We plan to explore many more genres in the future including hip hop and electronic music.


HT: Unsurprisingly, digital technology plays a large role in how Australian Music Vault experiences will be delivered to visitors. Can you expand on the interactive nature of how this technology will be used to enhance the visitor experience?

JB: Without giving away all our secrets I can say that the Australian Music Vault will have a large digital component and will include elements that reflect how people listen to/experience music. Spotify is one of our Major Partners and they have helped us create the AMV Mixtape that allows visitors to make their own playlist based on their journey through the exhibition.


HT: We note you have icons of the Australian music industry as event patrons. What role have Michael Gudinski, Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum, Archie Roach and Kylie Minogue had in the creation the Australian Music Vault concept and its delivery?

JB: We are thrilled to have such iconic members of the Australian music industry as our founding patrons.  The Australian Music Vault has been a passion project for our patrons and many others for decades- particularly Molly and Michael Gudinski, they have wanted a place where Australian music could be celebrated and for its home to be in Melbourne.


HT: Tell us more about some of the iconic moments and extraordinary stories in Australian music history that will be celebrated.  

JB: There will be a huge amount of content in the Australian Music Vault and a large amount of iconic moments and extraordinary stories will be explored.

One of the featured themes, The Real Thing, will explore 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 will celebrate the contribution of hit makers and heroes and will also highlight the contributions of lesser known but equally influential performers and industry personnel.

Also featured in the exhibition will be a series of displays that will highlight 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 explored will be Punk/New Wave, timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of punk.  Looking at identity and belonging, this area will explore the pivotal moment in Australian music between 1977- 1985 with a focus on performers, venues and do it yourself recording, distribution and publishing.

In addition to this we have partnered with ARIA and the ARIA Hall of Fame and will be recognising the inductees of this iconic Australian music award- each year the inductee will have a presence within the Vault whilst previous inductees will be highlighted as well. This year’s inductee, Daryl Braithwaite will therefore have a presence when we launch.


HT: The Vault celebrates songwriters, musicians, performers, designers, producers, promoters, roadies and fans. What are some of the things that visitors will see or experience for the first time, when attending the Music Vault?

JB: An amazing collection of items taken from the Australian Performing Arts Collection plus some never before exhibited items donated and lent to us by members of the music industry.


HT: How should visitors best plan their visit and how long should they allocate to do it justice?  

JB: The Australian Music Vault is open seven days a week and is free- so visitors can come and go as they wish- whenever Arts Centre Melbourne is open, the Australian Music Vault will be open. Come for a short time, or stay all day- the Australian Music Vault is for everyone, from the true music fan to visitors from overseas not at all familiar with Australian music – we hope to see everyone there!


For more information visit the Australian Music Vault website,


About Janine Barrand

Janine Barrand is the Director of Collections at Arts Centre Melbourne. She has worked in the performing arts and museums for over 30 years and has a special interest in popular music. As Director, Janine is responsible for leading access programs, and the development and management of the Australian Performing Arts Collection, now numbering over 600,000 items documenting the history of circus, dance, music, opera and theatre. Janine has also curated major exhibitions exploring the impact and influence of Australia’s leading performers including Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave along with Rock Chicks, the story of women in Australian music.


Image Credit:

Something for Kate, The Hi Fi Bar, 1999. Photograph by Shellie Tonkin.
Arts Centre Melbourne, Australian Performing Arts Collection

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