From Kylie’s Gold Hotpants to Ballet Slippers: glittering public tours await

By Our Reporter
Corset worn by Kylie Minogue, Intimate and Live tour, 1998. Designed by William Baker. Photo credit: Eugene Hyland // Pic supplied

Behind the Glittering Curtains of Arts Centre Melbourne’s New Public Tours

Arts Centre Melbourne announced the launch of public tours of its Australian Performing Arts Collection Store, commencing on Sunday, 10 September 2023. Offering a rare peek behind the curtain, these tours promise to satiate the cultural curiosity of Melburnians and tourists alike.

Visitors to the weekend tours will enjoy a unique opportunity to peruse an extraordinary array of items from the Collection. This includes Kylie Minogue’s gold lamé hotpants, pointe shoes worn by Australia’s top ballet dancers, and a set model created for the renowned Australian stage musical, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Not only will participants have the privilege to view these fascinating objects, but they will also hear enthralling stories about their histories and learn about the meticulous care and expertise that go into preserving them.

The initiative is part of Arts Centre Melbourne’s recent upgrade and expansion of the Collection Store, which was designed by Williams Ross Architects. This renovated space includes new workspaces, a conservation lab to preserve artefacts on-site, and a dedicated photographic studio for digitising the collection. Funding for the renovation was generously provided by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, as well as philanthropists Virginia and Harry Boon, The Estate of Maxwell and Merle Carroll, and The Estate of Suzette Marie Chapple.

Photo credit: Eugene Hyland // Pic supplied

Established in 1975, the Australian Performing Arts Collection (APAC) is the nation’s largest collection dedicated to preserving the heritage of performing arts. Spanning five key collecting areas—circus, dance, music, opera, and theatre—the collection boasts an eclectic mix of costumes, accessories, designs, set models, props, photographs, and even scrapbooks and audio-visual materials.

Samantha Hamilton, Arts Centre Melbourne’s Head of Collections, Preservation and Access, emphasised the impact this initiative will have on the community: “Providing access to the Australian Performing Arts Collection has the potential to stimulate creativity, curiosity, dialogue, increased knowledge and a greater sense of connection and wellbeing for the people of Victoria and its visitors.”

Photo credit: Eugene Hyland // Pic supplied

Hamilton continued, “By opening our new storage, research and education facility, visitors will participate in a unique Melbourne experience that complements our exhibitions and displays. A tour of the Collections Store will offer further access to our marvellous state assets through a behind-the-scenes experience into what it takes to develop, manage, preserve, and share this inspiring and entertaining collection.”

As Melbourne continues to assert its status as Australia’s cultural capital, this new offering from Arts Centre Melbourne ensures that both residents and visitors can connect more deeply with the richness of Australia’s performing arts legacy.

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