Inhabiting the Archive



Inhabiting the Archive traces the changing function of performance venues of national importance in the cultural ecosystem, revealing shifts in the aesthetic and political priorities of the theatre and dance sector of Melbourne, and documenting demographic and social changes. Our priority has been to document and create interactive tours of performing arts venues that are vulnerable to imminent destruction of redevelopment, and these include:

  • The former Lucy Guerin Inc Studio in West Melbourne.
  • The Union Theatre, Guild Theatre and Des Connor Room - in the Union House complex at the University of Melbourne.
  • La Mama Theatre, Faraday Street that was razed by fire in 2019.

The digital tours bring the venues to life by combining photosphere images that document venue interiors and exteriors with 360-degree videos. They also prioritise inter-operability with the resource-rich Theatre and Dance Platform, a digital repository for performing arts-related collections established in 2017 at the University of Melbourne.

A burnt out theatre building
Burnt-out shell of La Mama Theatre, after the fire in May 2018.

Digital objects from these collections and archives– including posters, programs, archival audio-visual material and other ephemera – are embedded in the tours, along with short commentaries and specially commissioned interviews, to provide historical and research context.

Inhabiting the Archive is an ongoing collaboration between the Digital Studio at the University of Melbourne and Digital Heritage Australia. The tours and the Theatre and Dance Platform were created as part of the University of Melbourne's commitment to support for the arts community and were funded by the AusStage Visualising Venues project (ARC LIEF 2017-8) and University Engagement Grants.

Click here for an accessible version of the Union House Tour

Click here for an accessible version of the Lucy Guerin Study Tour