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Explore the ACMI Exhibition: The Story of the Moving Image

ACMI, the Australian Centre for Moving Image, is Australia’s national museum for film, television, video games, digital culture and art.

After 5 years of planning, 18 months of construction and $40 million redevelopment, ACMI has been transformed into a world leader in digital innovation, with a brand new centrepiece exhibition; The Story of the Moving Image.

Acmi Stairs Photo Credit Shannon Mcgrath

ACMI Exhibition: The Story of the Moving Image

The Story of the Moving Image is a free permanent ACMI exhibition that explores the past, present and future of images, right from cleverly lit shadowboxes and puppets to imagining how technology will help us shape and present images in the future.

Different cultures have all been captured and captivated by the moving image, and The Story of the Moving Image explores this range of time and space.

The Story of the Moving Image is divided into five sections that combine to complete a cohesive exhibition – Moving Pictures, Moving Australia, Moving Worlds, Moving Minds and the Games Lab.

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Moving Pictures

This section of the gallery explores the history of the moving picture throughout the world, right from shadow puppets and lanterns, through to television, video games and virtual reality.

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Moving Australia

Moving Australia explores how Australia is represented through image – both identity and place.

It challenges how we consider representation and identity, with a multitude of voices to hear through the 11 subsections.

See if you can spot the tiny TVs playing Bluey and other retro iconic Australian TV shows for a hit of nostalgia.


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Moving Worlds

Exploring behind the scenes of how major movies, tv series and video games are made, right from concept sketches to set design, costume design, characters and more.

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Moving Worlds includes 6 subsections and displays including original costumes, notebooks and props, including the piano from the film The Piano.

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Moving Minds

Moving Minds explores how media disseminates factual information – and sometimes fake news. The moving image can be a powerful tool for communication and instigating change and this area includes exhibits relating to documentary, news, online platforms and social media.

Although I'm sure we'd all argue that not everything we see on social media is factual, that is the point – to explore how information can be conveyed to shape people's opinions.

Moving minds includes 11 subsections, including Aboriginal History Archive and School Strike for Climate.

Games Lab

The Games Lab presented by Big Ant Studios is sure to be the biggest hit with kids (big and little). It explores the history of games, and how they can be used to share information.

There are three subsections, 12 playable video games and 4 arcade games which are sure to be popular and there appears to be no time limit on how long you can play (though of course it's best to share!).

Six of the video games reflect on the Moving Worlds section, and six reflect the Moving Minds section. They are akk Australian created games, some of which were tested at ACMI in the Audience Lab program.Note that some supervision may be required as game ratings vary from G to MA15+.

The four Arcade games were chosen to represent specific video game genres and include Ms Pac Man (sequel to Pac Man) and the difficult but brilliantly made Dragon's Lair.

Interactive Elements at The Story of the Moving Image

Similar to the previous Screen Worlds exhibition, The Story of the Moving Image contains a lot of interactive elements, making it engaging even for younger children.

Really fun experiences include using a Foley studio to create a soundscape…

….assembling a film scene using snippets from famous films….

…plus of course video and arcade games to play.

You can also create an animation with shadows, make an optical toy and experiment with time.

I'd suggest visiting at opening time (10am) when it's least busy to allow kids more of an opportunity to use the interactive equipment. Also if you're moving around the exhibition in a pram some of the pathways are not very wide in order to dodge people.

The Lens

To help collect your favourite bits of the exhibition, and allow further exploration from home, ACMI has created The Lens, a free handheld take tool that allows you to capture things of interest throughout the exhibition, from around 200 touch points.

You collect The Lens at the entrance of the exhibition and then digitally ‘collect' content as you explore the galleries.

At the end of the exhibition, you will reach The Constellation, a digital activation that draws information from The Lens and connects the objects and media collected. It will cleverly highlight connections between different and seemingly disparate pieces of content as a further way to explore the layers of the exhibition.

You can also explore the information you collected from home, by entering your unique Lens code into the ACMI website.

Visits to The Story of the Moving Image are free, but booking is required is manage capacity. Entry tickets are timed, and ensure you'll get plenty of space to explore the exhibition safely. I recommend at least 60 minutes for your visit, but that's a quick whip-around without factoring in time for playing games, watching videos and reading plaques.

For visitors with ASD or sensory sensitivities, ACMI hosts relaxed visits to The Story of the Moving Image. The relaxed visits are held before ACMI opens to the public for the day, and have fewer visitors and a dedicated quiet space.

As well as presenting The Story of the Moving Image, ACMI holds family-friendly programs, free and paid workshops, activity days, exhibitions, film screenings and school holiday activities.

Note if you’re a frequent visitor to ACMI it’s worth taking up ACMI membership. It provides discounted rates for ACMI programs and activities, $12 parking at Federation Square, discounts at the ACMI shop and free member-only screenings. On joining you receive 2 x Person Exhibition Pass for a paid exhibition and discounted tickets for other paid sessions.


Click here for other must-have memberships for Melbourne families

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Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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