The Importance of Interaction

The theory is simple. Lasting memories are formed from when we actively engage with information. Don’t get me wrong, reading is great too, but real life experiences leave an indelible mark in our memory. Something that has been captured in the new State Library of Victoria exhibition, Victor Hugo: Les Misérables From Page to Stage, a master class in interactive, memorable exhibits.

Les Mis Exhibition

In the current technology-saturated age, the way we deal with information has changed significantly. A wealth of information sits at the end of our fingertips whenever we log onto the internet and wherever we go, in the online or offline world, we are bombarded with huge amounts of stimulus. This has resulted in changing methods of processing requiring much higher amounts of stimulus to keep us entertained and engaged.

The latest exhibition at the State Library of Victoria has an enormous reach. Focussing on the development of Victor Hugo’s masterful tome, Les Misérables, the progression into plays and movies, and most recently the lasting impact of the timeless musical, this extensive display will capture the interest of young and old who have fallen in love with the classic.

Traditional theatregoers are most likely accustomed to visiting museums. Getting the opportunity to view historical artefacts and sketches from the past from behind rather thick plate glass will be a fantastically memorable experience. However, what about the younger generations, people who are technologically dependent and need this huge amount of stimulus to maintain engagement?

That is where the genius of this exhibition comes in!

The enduring relevance of Les Misérables is separated into two sections. The first section details the story of the book from a serial release into a text of great legacy. Displaying the original book written with Victor Hugo’s own hand, various inspirations of the time and sketches from the book alongside movie and play posters, this section of the exhibition is securely within the comfort zones of the traditional attendee. The second section, contained within the massive forecourt next to the Wheeler Centre, is an interactive paradise.

Very much based within the domain of the highly stimulated younger generations, this section uses many clever strategies to create a memorable experience for the non-traditional theatre goers.

Tables are set up in the style of scene designers with videos of set creation, real designing tools and books of scenery from the current production to peruse. There are replica costumes from the production waiting to adorn visitors before they step onto a stage to act out their favourite scenes. My favourite part is an enormous scene playing the 10th Anniversary celebration sing-through with live orchestra at Royal Albert Hall. Not only can you sit down in front of the screen in orchestra chairs watching videos on the music stands but you can also take your moment in the spotlight and conduct along to the video*. And this doesn’t even begin to dip below the surface of this fantastic exhibition.

*Conductors baton provided

Using these interactive strategies, audience members are invited into the world of Les Misérables and surrounded by the phenomenon. Actively engaging with all these different elements rather than simply observing from a distance manages to create a lasting memory of the experience with the ever evolving Les Misérables brand that is sure to provide enough stimulation for any musical lover.

If you love Les Misérables or simply want to see a master class of an exhibition, visit the State Library before this closes. For more information and to book tickets, visit