Australian Music Vault attendance hits 200k
The Australian Music Vault, the permanent rock and roll memorabilia exhibition at Arts Centre Melbourne, has drawn 200,000 attendees in its first four months.
“It’s a staggering figure,” agrees senior curator Carolyn Laffan.
“To be honest I don’t know if there was a target. But it has certainly exceeded all expectation.”
It’s the latest success story for Arts Centre Melbourne.
Previously successful rock-related exhibitions were a good litmus test for The Vault. Kylie on Stage exhibit drew 250,000 Kylie Minogue fans, with a visitor figure of 150,000 in the first two months.
The Nick Cave exhibit was seen by 351,000, at the venue and as part of a national tour.
AC/DC’s Australia’s Family Jewels attracted 230,000 to the Arts Centre over the summer.
For Laffan, these rock events work because they are staged at the Arts Centre, which is open 364 days a year from 9am to 11pm.
Aside from the regulars, The Vault is also attracting a totally different crowd, and a wide range of age groups, coming to see the Vault as a destination rather than as part of an overall visit.
It’s also drawing intestate and international visitors.
“We really wanted it to be an inter-generational experience – grandparents, parents and children,” Laffan says.
“It’s working really well. It resonates up and down the family tree.”
The Amplifier section which includes the 1972 film from the Sunbury music festival, and the Countdown era (with audio narrative from host Molly Meldrum) sees nostalgic family members pointing out items of interest to the younger ones – many of whom squeal over how today’s rock icons once looked so fresh-faced.
The Vault team reports a lot of similar discovery is taking place elsewhere, with those coming for the punk section might also find interesting items in, say, the women’s or indigenous areas.
The indigenous section which includes items from Archie Roach, Yothu Yindi and No Foxed Address below a huge First Australians flag, is particularly getting a strong “didn’t know there was so much stuff” feedback
Laffan is currently working with indigenous artists and their management to expand the story.
“It’s 100% a work in progress,” emphasises Laffan about the whole collection.
“If it’s not an open and flexible program, you miss out on too many opportunities.
“We take it seriously that we set the Vault up with the music industry so sometimes things come up in the industry which are really important for us to respond to.”
When the Australian Music Prize shortlist was announced, the Vault staged live sets from some of the nominated acts on the back of a truck in its courtyard – drawing 500 fans.
The education side of the Vault continues – with monthly panel talks so far covering gender imbalance in the music industry and the role of fans in music culture; online resources for school teachers and the AMV Academy where major figures mentor 20 students aged 14—25.
After launching in mid-December with 154 items – ranging from Angus and Kylie’s stage costumes to guitars, amps and handwritten notes to a copy of The Models’ Cut Lunch EP in a London Police evidence bag and a Ngaiire’s headdress made of palm fronds – changes have been made already.
The Daryl Braithwaite section, set up when he was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame late last year, is now changed to spotlight Midnight Oil to note they were given the Ted Albert lifetime achievement award at the recent APRA awards in Sydney.
Much of the items came from the Oils: they include the special handwritten score for ‘Beds Are Burning’ and memorabilia from around the time of their ground-breaking Blackfella Whitefella regional tour with Warumpi Band.
Also in the pipeline: the story of Australia’s Maton Guitars which has found international recognition, more insight to Australian instrument makers, and a look at the evolving of the Australian hip hop sound and why it’s different to that coming from abroad.
“I’m really interested in the idea on what makes Australian music different and distinct, and why.
“It’s not about trying to get a definite answer.
“It’s about giving music lovers things to think about, cast their opinions and argue about their stands.”