Unconventional Museum Visits - Melbourne Museum Guide

Our correspondent Netta went on a search for unusual museums and exhibitions. Discover more about this city in an unconventional way with this Melbourne Museum guide.

Published by Netta on 24/04/2018

I went on a weekend cultural discovery, to uncover the less ordinary tourist attractions in the city. Shining a new light on museums and learning history in an unconventional way. With exciting events and interactive experiences, these venues can be reclaimed by citizens of the city – move over school groups, there’s a new audience in town.

A City Made By People Melbourne Unconventional Museum Visits Guide 1

Image courtesy of Daniel Mahon

Nocturnal at Melbourne Museum – 11 Nicholson Street 

It’s undeniable, music is the lifeblood of Melbourne so when I discovered there was a monthly event called Nocturnal on at Melbourne Museum, showcasing great musicians within the impressive museum building, I was interested. I went along to the sold out event which played host to Melbourne house music DJs Wax’o Paradiso, Harvey Sutherland and JNETT spinning tunes under a sparkling disco ball in the transformed museum foyer. All areas of the museum had open access and revelers were particularly enthralled by the dinosaur walk and wild exhibits. Drink in hand, I took advantage of a Nocturnal Talk and learnt more about Australia’s extinct species with close up access to the fossils, bones and artefacts. 

Left & centre images, courtesy of Cesur Sanli
Right image, courtesy of Naomi Lee Beveridge

Melbournians are truly receptive to supporting live music in unexpected places, in its last 8 Nocturnal events Melbourne Museum welcomed 13,000 citizens through the doors, to wander the museum in an adult’s only edition with likeminded music loving peers. Nocturnal flanks music and curiosity all within what is arguably our city’s most unique and dynamic music space, blending inquisitive minds with music, gallery exploration into a great night out.

Check the website for the next event and we will see you there! 

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Left image, courtesy of Melissa Cowan
Right image, courtesy of Netta Justice

Old Melbourne Gaol – 377 Russell Street

Visiting a Gaol is not necessarily the first thing that pops to mind when thinking of a place to spend a day in town, but if you want to be transported back to over a century ago, The Old Melbourne Gaol gives a real perspective of Melbourne’s less fortunate citizens, in its early gold rush days. 

Images courtesy of Old Melbourne Gaol, National Trust of Australia

Awash with prisoners from all walks of life, the Gaol which opened in 1845, was bursting at the seams in horrific conditions for its occupants. It’s an eerie place and standing in the tiny cells you are confronted with a ‘death mask’ of an actual prisoner along with information relating to that person’s story. This includes Melbourne’s most infamous criminal, Ned Kelly who resided here until he was hanged in the Gaol’s gallows. Be sure to visit the Watch House for an interactive experience of being locked up by a prison guard! Certainly not your average tourist attraction – The Old Melbourne Gaol offers a slice of history from within the very centre of our city.  

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Image courtesy of Old Melbourne Gaol, National Trust of Australia

State Library Victoria - 328 Swanston Street 

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Left image, courtesy of State Library of Victoria
Right image, courtesy of Elsa Greguric

Not everyone knows that inside the State Library there is more than just reading rooms full of students and books. In fact, within this beautiful building there are impressive exhibitions and free tours offering a fantastic insight into Melbourne and the state’s history. Take a walk through to the main domed reading room which opened in 1913 and look up at the impressive ceiling, catch the lift to the top floor for a better perspective on this room, and then make your way down each level, taking in the exhibitions along the way.

Left & centre images, courtesy of Susan Gordon Brown
Right image, courtesy of Elsa Greguric

The Changing Face of Victoria exhibition offers a wide collection of items, including the armour of that infamous criminal we learnt about at the Gaol, Ned Kelly. The World of the Book exhibitionis particularly interesting and celebrates the unique place books have in our hearts and minds.

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Image courtesy of State Library of Victoria 

The State Library of Victoria offers a whole bunch of other services which open up a world of information for visitors. It’s a wonderful place to spend a few hours, though I could stay all day.

Words by Netta Justice

Interested in reading more stories like this? Take a look at Issue 1 & 2 of our print journal. #acitymadebypeople

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