ACMI has just reopened again, so what can we expect from its $40 million revamp?

ACMI has just reopened again, so what can we expect from its $40 million revamp?

'The Story of the Moving Image' - image by Adam Gibson
Words by Gabriela Caeli Sumampow

The museum is more mind-blowing than ever.

After commencing a $40 million redevelopment project in 2019, the wait is over – ACMI has finally reopened, and with a dramatic transformation.

Introducing a media preservation lab and exciting exhibitions, some perks of ACMI’s new look include contemporary cafes and bars, revitalised shops, as well as a staircase connecting the building and its new relaxation spaces.

ACMI celebrates its reopening with an Open Weekend – debuting their newest centrepiece exhibition, a world-first piece of technology set to reinvent the museum-going experience, and a lineup of free activities, talks and performances.

As we revel in the museum’s reactivation, here’s a few early highlights of ACMI’s 2021 program.

Keen on more Melbourne goss? Subscribe to Beat here and we’ll send them straight to your inbox.

The Story of the Moving Image

An early highlight of ACMI’s 2021 offerings explores the power of moving images to tell stories and make history. Featuring ancient shadow puppets, original cameras, movie sets and contemporary art, ACMI’s new centrepiece exhibition, The Story of the Moving Image, is divided into five sections depicting major movements in moving image history.

Some of these sections include the origins and future of cinema, the rise of video games, and how screens inform, influence and empower audiences. While this exhibition brings history to life with interactive experiences like animating shadows, assembling film scenes and creating your own soundscapes in a Foley studio, it’s also where ACMI’s world-first Lens activation shines.

Entry to The Story of the Moving Image is free, opening at 12pm each day.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ACMI (@acmionline)

The Lens

If you’ve checked out The Story of the Moving Image you’ll come to familiarise yourself with ACMI’s world-first Lens technology. This free handheld, take-home device presses your ACMI memories into a nutshell. The Lens is uniquely ACMI-only, and it collects information about artworks in The Story of the Moving Image – obtained through over 200 touch points scattered around the exhibit.

ACMI believes The Lens is a more effective way for visitors to remember their time in the exhibition. To access your Lens, head over to the entrance of The Story of the Moving Image when you arrive at ACMI.

Gabriella Hirst: Darling Darling

Australian-born, Berlin and London-based artist Gabriella Hirst’s video art piece, Darling Darling, investigates the nature of care and neglect through showcasing two visions of New South Wales’ Barka Darling River. Her piece contrasts the restoration of 19th century painting The flood in the Darling, 1890, with the environmental crisis Australia’s third longest river currently faces today.

Hirst’s work will be showcased at ACMI from now until Sunday May 30, and it’s free entry. Punters can also attend an In Conversation talk with Hirst on Saturday February 13.

Love & Neon: The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai

ACMI is bringing back eleven films from iconic Hong Kong film director Wong Kar Wai. And yes, you can finally see the likes of In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express and Days of Being Wild on the big screens again!

Famously known for his vivid cinematography consisting of bold, saturated, and often neon colors, Wong Kar Wai’s films are linked to urban spaces and city dwellers. He also experiments with genres like gangster, melodrama and sci-fi – sometimes fusing them together to craft hectic experiences.

Tickets for all eleven Wong Kar Wai films are now available on ACMI’s website, with screenings taking place from Thursday February 11 to Saturday February 27.

Non-Fiction 2021

In association with the Australian International Documentary Conference, ACMI’s annual documentary film festival returns for its third instalment. Presenting some of the most praised documentaries from around the world, this year’s festival is packed with Australian premiere screenings, exclusive TV previews and In Conversation events with filmmakers.

Some unmissable Australian premieres include 76 Days – observing how the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds in Wuhan from the early lockdown days, and MLK/FBI – spotlighting newly-declassified documents and telling the story of the FBI’s pursuit on Martin Luther King Jr.

The festival takes place from Sunday February 28 to Thursday March 11. Find out more here.

Not-so-silent Outdoor Cinema

Silent movies are making a not-so-silent return to ACMI, with screenings taking over Fed Square’s Digital Facade from Friday February 26 to Thursday April 1. Screenings of all four silent movies will be accompanied by live, restaged scores performed by bands.

So, which movie will you check out? Will it be The Adventures of Prince Achmed scored by Phillip Johnston or Sherlock Jr. alongside a live score by Blue Grassy Knoll? What about Metropolis, or the Magda Szubanski-featuring Dr. Plonk?

ACMI is now open to the public. Find out more here.