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Australian Centre for the Moving Image Reopens After Digital Overhaul

Australian Centre for the Moving IMage
Adam Gibson for ACMI

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne reopened on Wednesday after a $30.9 million (A$40 million) overhaul.

Before it closed the venue, which evolved from the State Film Centre of Victoria, was the second most visited museum in Australia and claimed to be the most visited film museum in the world. However, its central permanent exhibition Screen Worlds, which opened in 2009, was falling behind the digital times.

The planned revamp of Screen Worlds led in 2017 to a “holistic review of our museum,” Katrina Sedgwick, the ACMI’s director explained at the reopening ceremony. It closed its doors in May 2019 and renovation work continued through much of the coronavirus period. Sedgwick said that the full refit amounted to an “architectural, technological and programmatical transformation.”

Among the new features is an ‘Audience lab’ and a screening room with 4k Christie laser-powered projector, as well as 35 and 16mm offerings. The whole connects film, TV and games content.

One significant innovation is the disk that visitors are given to take with them as they tour the new Story of the Moving Image exhibition space. Made of cardboard and looking like a View Master reel, but equipped with a Near Field Communication chip, the token or ‘Lens’ allows visitors to scoop up information about the exhibits and to access pristine images without needing to use the camera on their phone. It also allows visitors to continue the museum experience at home and refer to materials that are not part of ACMI’s collection. New, smaller exhibitions in the main building include ‘Moving Australia’ and ‘Moving Minds.’

The opening ceremony, which was also broadcast on YouTube, underlined the museum’s commitment to Australia’s First Nations people. Some 70% of commissions will go to indigenous artists and creators.