Reflecting on the Numbers: The Year 2012 in Review

Image of VAC2012-004.001  Robert Owen Fine Art Services in collaboration with Electrolight  'Silence' 2012 Commissioned through the Maxwell and Merle Carroll Bequest Arts Centre Melbourne, Public Art Collection
Image of VAC2012-004.001
Robert Owen Fine Art Services & Electrolight
‘Silence’ 2012
Commissioned through the Maxwell & Merle Carroll Bequest
Arts Centre Melbourne, Public Art Collection

If historical predictions are accurate, the world might just end tomorrow… so as our (working) life flashes before our eyes, here’s the wrap on a few of the memorable (and some of the mundane) things that our amazing team of just 16 staff in the Collections department achieved during 2012.


The exhibitions team installed 1165 objects in 16 displays and exhibitions – that’s a lot of wall labels to proof read, mannequins and showcases to move, and crates to pack and unpack! Our AC/DC exhibition finished its world tour having been on the road for 2 years and finally came home to Melbourne for a rest after being visited by more than 687,000 people in Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, Perth, Glasgow and Seattle.

Meanwhile, Time in Motion: 50 Years of the Australian Ballet attracted a great deal of interest in Melbourne and is now beautifully displayed at the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney until 12 February 2013.


This year our exhibitions and displays attracted over 585,398 visitors. There were also around 80,000 visits our Collections online website – we hope you were one of them!


This year we acquired new material from 21 donors totalling approximately 1000 objects. Some highlights from the new acquisitions include: a large collection from the Melbourne Workers Theatre; production files compiled by director Bruce Myles; a collection from designer Judith Cobb; and a superb archival collection relating to touring activities undertaken by Clifford Hocking and David Vigo. Other wonderful material came from the Estate of early Rock ‘n’ Roller Betty McQuade, popular entertainers Bobby Le Brun and George Sorlie, and the Holden Circus family. The Art Collection was enriched by an Anthony Pryor sculpture, donated by Leon and Sandra Velik, and six beautiful works of art were donated by Charles Blackman.


Our tireless Registrar and team of dedicated Volunteers catalogued 10677 new items this year.  This brings us to a whoping total of 146,081 records in our electronic catalogue. Not to mention the other 30807 records that were edited and enhanced!


Meanwhile, we conditioned-reported, packed and lent out 60 objects from our own collections, and borrowed a further 562 items from elsewhere to enrich our exhibitions and displays.


We scanned, photographed and uploaded 6296 images to our system and published quite a few of them online – some of them we are still amazed by! Like this oneand this one!!!


We reprinted the AC/DC Exhibition catalogue for its international tour, published an exhibition room brochure for Time on Motion: 50 Years of the Australian Ballet. We also published 6300 new records online via our new Collections online website. You can discover all sorts of weird and wonderful things here – have you seen the new site yet?


Our collection management database tells us we moved 20,380 objects and works of art this year…. Phew, no wonder we’re tired!


Arts Centre Melbourne reopened its doors to Hamer Hall after a 3 year $128.5 million dollar redevelopment project (which, incidentally, saw nearly 4000 tonnes of concrete removed from the site). In Collections we were busy building exhibitions, displays and websites to celebrate the opening. We built a new mobile web tour called Collections On Cue to share insights into the works of art and new commissions on display in Hamer Hall. Our visitors can now find out more about the Collections whilst exploring the new foyers and sparkling interiors. We were pretty chuffed to receive an award from Arts Victoria for this project – Hooray!


Three major new Art Commissions were installed in Hamer Hall, including Silence (pictured) by Robert Owen’s Studio & Electrolight – a work of art we estimate contains around 62,000 Swarovski crystals (its always the first thing people ask!)


Our staff shared their knowledge widely this year – presenting talks, seminars, lectures, and tours in venues ranging from Melbourne, France, Qatar, Seattle and Sydney. We also invited 10 distinguished guest speakers to discuss their research projects in our Spotlight Lecture Series. We hosted an unusually large number of behind the scenes tours this year with over 150 people experiencing a very special glimpse of our Collection store.


And of course while we were doing all of this, we were busy planning some major redevlopments in our collection store and developing the new exhibitions and programs for the years ahead. Look out for our forthcoming Performative Prints From the Torres Strait and The Extraordinary Shapes of Geoffrey Rush exhibitions which are opening in 2013.

With so much to look forward to next year, we do hope the Mayans were wrong!

Published by

Performing Arts Collection

Arts Centre Melbourne's Performing Arts Collection is the national leader among specialist performing arts collections in Australia. Established in 1975, it is formally recognised as a State collection and encompasses the history of circus, dance, music, opera and theatre. The Collection features over 640,000 items including costumes, designs, photographs, set models, puppets, props, posters, programs and archives.

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