Discover Australian music at this immersive free exhibition

Discover Australian music at this immersive free exhibition

Australian Music Vault

Australian Music Vault, the much-loved free exhibition tribute to Australia's rich musical history, has just revealed some intriguing new objects.

Open in all its glory, having delighted well over a million visitors since opening despite the pandemic, the Australian Music Vault is a time-traveller’s guide through Australian music history, featuring some of its most captivating stories and memorabilia.

The exhibition charts Australian music from 1950 until the present day, taking visitors on an often-surprising voyage into Australia’s greatest musical moments, both at home and on the international stage. Walking through the exhibition offers a proud reminder of how vociferously Australia has punched above its weight in the global music industry for decades.

What you need to know

  • The Australian Music Vault is open to the public with new artists represented
  • The captivating free exhibition is open daily from 10am until 5pm
  • It’s located at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Particularly impressive is the leading role many of Australia’s most prominent artists played in developing the exhibition, with many items donated or on loan directly from the artists themselves. Kylie Minogue, Archie Roach, Molly Meldrum, Tina Arena and Michael Gudinski were all founding patrons.

Packed with stunning costumes, iconic musical instruments and classic objects, the exhibition goes behind the scenes, offering a glimpse into the lives of the artists, producers, managers, record labels, promoters, roadies and technicians.

Without a chronological or thematic order, it becomes a truly immersive experience, most incredibly illustrated by ‘The Amplifier’: a 360-degree audio and visual room that immerses attendees in the sights and sounds of sun-filled days at Sunbury Festival, the exhilaration of being part of a live Countdown audience, the heady world of triple j Unearthed, and what it was like to be at Melbourne’s SLAM Rally, the largest cultural protest in Australia’s history. And once again, it’s all completely free.

Highlighting new objects in the exhibit

Jacket, headphones and boots worn by Baker Boy in the ‘Cool As Hell’ video, 2019. Hand painted by Josiah Baker, lent by Baker Boy.

In his fractional career so far, Baker Boy has been nothing less than a hip-hop pioneer, shifting mainstream attitudes towards what Australian hip-hop can look and sound like, while simultaneously broadening its international appeal. His effortless rapping in both English and Yolngu Matha – a legacy passed down from the original Baker Boys, his hip-hop performing father and uncle – has won over 20 prestigious awards, and his unique visual aesthetic is a mesmerising experience up close.

Faux-fur coat worn by Mo’Ju in the ‘Native Tongue’ video, 2018. Made by Frankie Valentine, lent by Mo’Ju.

Fusing blues, jazz, soul, R&B and hip hop has seen Mo’Ju quickly carve out a powerful reputation within the Australian music industry, touring with the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Paul Kelly, Hilltop Hoods and Aloe Blacc. Of the title track to their third album ‘Native Tongue’, which garnered three ARIA nominations, Mo’Ju has written, “I wrote this song as an expression of some complex emotions, such as grief for a loss of culture and Indigenous languages and other impacts of assimilation, colonisation and the white-washing of non-western cultures. This is not a song of self-pity, it is a song of self-empowerment.”

Guild Thunderbird guitar played by Ross Hannaford of Daddy Cool, c.1970-1975

Daddy Cool’s propeller-capped enigma Ross Hannaford was also a founding member of The Pink Finks, The Party Machine, Sons of the Vegetal Mother, Mighty Kong and Relax with Max. The guitar virtuoso responsible for ‘Eagle Rock’ created the highest selling Australian single of 1971, and their debut LP Daddy Who? Daddy Cool became the first Australian album to sell over 100,000 copies. He finished his remarkable career busking on the streets of Melbourne, and this incredible guitar sparks all of these stories and more.

Head here for more information on the exhibition.