Music Vault Opens, ‘Gives Australian Music A Permanent Home’

The Music Vault, a free 600,000-item memorabilia exhibition covering Australian music from the 1950s to today, gave Pollstar a preview Dec.18, a day ahead of its public opening.  

It will be based permanently at Arts Centre Melbourne, and incorporates the Australian Recording Industry Association(ARIA) hall of fame.

“Australian music finally has a permanent home,” says Frontier Touring chief Michael Gudinski who drove the project with record producer and TV identity Ian “Molly” Meldrum. Both serve as its patrons, along with singers Kylie Minogue and Tina Arena and indigenous singer songwriter Archie Roach.

Display items, to be updated regularly, include AC/DC guitarist Angus Young’s schoolboy uniform from 1973, gowns from Minogue and Olivia Newton-John, song books from Roach and singer songwriter Paul Kelly, Peter Allen’s maracas, a sax belonging to the late Men At Work member Greg Ham, a Missy Higgins guitar, tour and venue posters, footage from iconic festivals as well as donations from Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, Icehouse, INXS, Radio Birdman, Nick Cave, Yothu Yindi and Go-Betweens and modern day acts Urthboy, Ecca Vandal and Ngaiire.

Michael Gudinski and Kylie Minogue
– Michael Gudinski and Kylie Minogue
Australian Music Vault Opening

Gudinski said, “Right from the start, when we began discussions for a permanent home 15 years ago, there were two non-negotiables. It had to be in Melbourne, the undisputed live music capital of Australia, and it had to be free so it was accessible to everybody. This became possible after the Victorian government put A$8.3 million ($6.35 million) into the project.”

Music Vault’s numbers are expected to exceed a Kylie Minogue exhibition at the venue, which drew 250,000, many from overseas.

The Vault is also set up as an educational project, with podcasts, Spotify playlists and panel discussions on Australian music, skills developing workshops for 14- to 18-year-olds, live shows, and an initiative which encourages school choirs to sing Australian songs.

One of the themes, The Real Thing, looks at whether there is an Australian sound. Roach believes there is. “Australia is a melting pot of cultures, and that reflects in the music, from that of the First Nation to hundreds of years of migration from all over the world. It’s created a sound that is like no other.”