Arts Centre Melbourne. Tower in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Arts Centre Melbourne

Tower in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Along the River Photo © Chiu Kang

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Arts Centre Melbourne

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Melbourne Art Centre - Arts Centre Melbourne
Melbourne Art Centre - Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Jason Argo
The Arts Centre Melbourne, previously known as The Arts Centre of the Victorian Arts Centre, is the hub of the performing arts in Victoria and the focal point of the cultural district, the Melbourne Arts Precinct, in Melbourne. It is located in the central Melbourne suburb of Southbank, along St Kilda Road and near the Yarra River (Wikipedia Article), and consists of concert halls and theaters.

The arts complex is easily recognized by its striking spire. This 115-meter steel spire was one of the first structures to be designed with a computer in Australia. It was opened in 1981, but in the middle of the 1990s it was already deteriorating. The spire was replaced in 1996, now reaching up to 162 meters high and made up of metal webbing that resembles the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Arts Centre Melbourne is made up of three venues, which combined is host to more than 4,400 events and performances each year. It is by far the largest and busiest performing arts center in Australia. The three venues are the Theatres Building, home to the Playhouse, Fairfax Studio, and the 2,077-seat State Theatre, which has one of the world’s largest stages; the Hamer Hall concert venue, with its 2,661 seats; and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl (Wikipedia Article), an outdoor area in nearby Kings Domain that can seat 12,000 people and is used for outdoor concerts.
Famous companies that perform in the theaters are the Australian Ballet, Opera Australia; Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Theatre Company; Victorian Opera, and Sydney Dance Company.

The Performing Arts Collection houses an important collection of items and artifacts covering almost 200 years of Australian performing arts. It has more than half a million artifacts that document the history of theater, dance, music, opera, and circus in the country.

	- Arts Centre Melbourne
Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Travis

The Melbourne Arts Centre - Arts Centre
The Melbourne Arts Centre - Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by


The present-day site used to be the location of various types of entertainment in Melbourne, such as theater, circuses, roller skating, ice skating, and dancing. The first plans to create a cultural center in the city were unfolded after the Second World War, but it wasn't until 1960 that a master plan was finally approved. The architect that was chosen was Sir Roy Grounds (Wikipedia Article).

In the following years there appeared to be problems with the site’s geology and the initial plans had to be revised. It was then decided to construct two buildings instead of one. Those buildings were Hamer Hall and the Theatres Building. Actual work on site didn't start until 1973, and the excavations weren't completed until 1978, two years behind schedule.

During construction, the design was constantly attacked in the Parliament and passionately defended by Norman Lacy, the Minister for the Arts. The Concert Hall (later renamed Hamer Hall after the Prime Minister) was finished in 1982, but the Theatres Building still had a long way to go. After the Concert, Hall the rest of the Arts Centre was opened one after another. The Theatre Building was the last one to open, in October 1984. It took nearly 25 years to complete this complex, but then again, it one of the largest public construction projects in the history of Victoria.

What is extraordinary about the Arts Centre Melbourne is that all of its theaters and concert hall are built largely underground.

Reflecting The
	Arts - Arts Centre Melbourne
Reflecting The Arts - Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Paul Hocksenar

Visiting Arts Centre Melbourne

From ballet, orchestra, and opera to theater and dance, the Arts Centre Melbourne offers all types of performing arts. The center is located only a few minutes’ walk over the bridge from Flinders Street Railway Station in the Melbourne Central Business District. It can also be reached by tram along St Kilda Road; the Arts Centre Melbourne is located at stop 14. Other public transport is the Melbourne Tourist Shuttle Bus, which loops around the city every thirty minutes.

Entertainment is not limited to the front of the stage though. Visitors can also go on guided tours around the complex. Tours go behind the scenes, on the stages, through enormous underground theaters, and past the impressive Performing Arts Collection.

The Arts Centre Melbourne also has a fine selection of restaurants, cafés, bars, and shops, and every Sunday is market day at the complex. From 10.00 AM to 4.00 PM, local artisans set up their shops on the lawns of the Arts Centre and sell products ranging from crafts to fresh produce. This cozy local market, contrasting with the bustle of a vibrant arts precinct, is a weekly highlight in Melbourne and not to be missed.

Similar Landmarks

Similar concert halls, theaters and performing arts centers can be found all over the world: the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Royal Albert Hall in London; Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Lincoln Center in New York City; and the Bolshoi (Wikipedia
	Article) Theater in Moscow.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: May 01, 2015

Pictures of Arts Centre Melbourne

Jeff's Spire - Arts Centre Melbourne
Jeff's Spire - Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Richard Giles

Arts Centre spire - Arts Centre Melbourne
Arts Centre spire - Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Cat

Jeff's Spire - Arts Centre Melbourne
Jeff's Spire - Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo by Richard Giles


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