The Arts Centre Melbourne PhotosKnown by many Melbourne travellers and tourists as a city landmark, there’s more to the Arts Centre Melbourne than meets the eye. Nestled under the enormous, and beautiful, spire, the Arts Centre is Australia’s largest and busiest performing art centre, hosting more than 4,000 performances and over 2.5 million people in the last year alone. Come for a guided tour, or to see one of the many world-renowned performances that briefly call the Arts Centre home. Whatever your preference, there’s something to impress at the Arts Centre Melbourne.

Highlights

  • Guided Tours – For any visitor wanting to explore the Arts Centre Melbourne beyond the surface, there is a guided tour to help you along. Take one of three tailored opportunities to head behind the scenes at the Arts Centre Melbourne, into backstage, the underground theatres and through the art collections. The tours include the Backstage Tour, the Open House Melbourne Tour (free) and the Theatres and Exhibition Tour.
  • Shows and Performances – There are so many creative activities, events and performances happening at the Arts Centre Melbourne, it can be hard to keep track. On offer are a regularly revolving host of amazing, and often internationally renowned, stage performances including ballet, orchestras, plays and musicians. These are popular, often selling out, despite the theatre containing around 5,000 seats, so early booking is absolutely required. A full list of what’s on now at the Arts Centre Melbourne is available on their calendar.

  • Family and Youth Programs – The Arts Centre Melbourne has a strong young artist and community focus, and in line with this mission focus the centre runs a number of programs (and performances) throughout the year aimed at children and young people. These include artistic development programs, workshops and informative talks and lectures, all to get kids interested in performance and art in general.
  • Performing and Public Art Collections – The Arts Centre Melbourne is home to two enormous art collections. The first is called the Public Art Collection, consisting of some 800 works in a variety of mediums, that all explore the intersection between the visual and performance arts. The second is called the Performance Art Collection, and it is both the largest and most important performance art collection in Australia. Including over 50,000 items, ranging every aspect of performance art from dance to opera, it’s a stunning sight.
  • Sunday Market – Every Sunday from 10am to 4pm local Melbourne artists and creators get together on the Arts Centre Melbourne’s front lawns to show off their unique and interesting handmade goods, which range from edibles to collectables. This amazing and colourful market is popular with locals, and sure to entertain visitors for hours with wandering around the stalls and talking to the talented artists.

Prices

Shows: The cost of shows will vary wildly depending on the type of show, its renown and the popularity of it. All of the details about what shows are on, and which ones are upcoming, can be found on the Art Centre Melbourne’s online calendar.

Tours

Backstage Tour (90 minutes, every Sunday at 11am) $20
Theatres and Exhibitions Tour (60 minutes, Mon-Sun at 11am) $20/adult$15/child (under 18)

Tips

  • Eating and Drinking – There are numerous options for dining in and around the Arts Centre Melbourne, thanks to the Arts Centre’s Dining Precinct. Within the precinct are a variety of high-quality eating and drinking establishments, serving everything from fusion Japanese to classic Mediterranean eats on the gorgeous Yarra River backdrop.
  • Nearby Attractions – The Arts Centre Melbourne is right in the middle of all of Melbourne’s urban action, and thanks to the city’s world-class public transport system, getting around is easy. However, within easy walking distance from the Arts Centre Melbourne are a few popular attractions including the National Gallery of Victoria, Federation Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and much more.

Transport

  • Walk – Arts Centre Melbourne is a few minutes from Flinders Street Station, just cross the bridge towards the National Gallery of Victoria.
  • Tram – Take any tram (except tram no. 1) along At Kilda Road and alight at stop 14 Arts Centre Melbourne.
  • Shuttle – There is a free Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle running on a loop through Melbourne CBD that stops at the Art Centre Melbourne.
  • Car – The Arts Centre Melbourne offers competitive parking rates at their 24-hour, 7-day carpark, entrance from Sturt and Kavanagh Streets, Southbank.

History

The Arts Centre Melbourne came to be after World War II, when it was decided that Melbourne needed a cultural centre. A plan was finally approved in 1960 and Sir Roy Grounds was chosen to be the architect. As construction began, challenges necessitated that the building be split into two, the Theatres Building and Hamer Hall.

Construction started in 1973, but wasn’t completed in full until 1984 following years of construction issues and finding complications. Many of these issues were due to the fact that, unlike many other theatres and concert halls, the Arts Centre Melbourne is built largely underground. The building’s trademark spire also caused some construction complications, and to complete it successfully it required the use of computer-aided-design (CAD) making it one of the first buildings in Australia to do so.

Interesting Facts

  • The Art Centre Melbourne’s trademark spire was replaced in 1996, with the new one measuring 162 metres and illuminated by around 6,600 metres of optic-fibre tubing, 150 metres of neon tubing and 14,000 incandescent lamps.
  • The design of the spire is supposed to represent a ballerina’s tutu, and also harken to the Eiffel Tower.
  • In 2008, the Arts Centre Melbourne’s management tethered birds of prey to the spire over six weeks to deter local cockatoos causing damage to the spire’s many lighting fixtures.

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