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Melbourne's Revamped ACMI Will Let You Interact with Its Exhibitions Digitally and At Home

Ahead of the site's 2021 reopening, a new multimedia exhibition is online now — and a video-on-demand service is launching in November.
By Sarah Ward
October 13, 2020
By Sarah Ward
October 13, 2020

As first announced back in 2018, Melbourne's Australian Centre for the Moving Image will soon look rather different, with the screen culture-focused Federation Square site currently undergoing extensive $40 million renovations. When it reopens in 2021, visitors can expect revamped exhibition spaces, new immersive experiences and added interactive activations, including a permanent ode to Mad Max. Also part of the huge makeover: increasing the ways that everyone can engage with ACMI digitally, both when heading by in-person and from home.

Yes, that sounds like a very 2020 move; however, the decision to implement a new experience operating system, or XOS, pre-dates the pandemic. The idea is to give visitors an integrated, multiplatform visitor experience, including before they arrive, as they're wandering around onsite and after they've left. And while some of ACMI's new additions will be familiar — an online exhibition space and its own video-on-demand service, for example — it has one particularly creative initiative up its sleeves.

That'd be The Lens, a handheld device made out of compressed cardboard and featuring an NFC tag. Visitors will use it while they're physically moseying through ACMI's galleries, and can take it home with them as a keepsake. As you walk around and view the museum's exhibitions, you'll tap the device at around 200 different touchpoints to collect objects of interest — which'll then be available for you to explore on any device afterwards, no matter where you are.

Explaining ACMI's new push to combine the physical and the digital, Director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick notes that "we often consume the same stories via different platforms; we might read the comic book then watch the film adaptation and later play the videogame. Each platform brings out something new in the story. We have taken this concept of multiplatform storytelling and applied it to our museum. Thanks to our XOS, what we can now offer is a deeply integrated journey that extends, expands and enriches your visit, be that in person, or online".

While no one will be able to get their hands on The Lens until next year, with ACMI's exact relaunch date yet to be revealed, the museum is unveiling some of its new digital additions before it opens. Online right now is The Story of the Moving Image, a multimedia exhibition currently focused on three main topics — Australian television, video games, Australian film — with additional sections on digital art, social video and Black women on-screen to come. It expands one of the site's forthcoming permanent physical exhibitions.

Also, in November this year, ACMI will unveil its aforementioned online exhibition space and online viewing platform. Arriving first is Gallery 5, which will stream artwork and performances from November 11, launching with the premiere of Delusional World by Shanghai-based video, installation and performance artist Lu Yang. Then, on November 19, Cinema 3 will start rolling, with the VOD service streaming a curated range of classics and new movies. It'll kick off with a digital restoration of Claire Denis' 1999 standout Beau Travail, plus Toshio Matsumoto's 1969 Japanese drama Funeral Parade of Roses and 2019's acclaimed Romanian flick The Whistlers.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image will reopen its doors sometime in 2021, with an exact date yet to be revealed. Its The Story of the Moving Image exhibition is currently available to view online, while its Gallery 5 digital exhibition space will launch on November 11, 2020 — with its Cinema 3 video-on-demand service following on November 19, 2020.

Top image: Field Carr.

Published on October 13, 2020 by Sarah Ward

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