Reimagining Spaces

There is a long history of traditional entertainment leaving their traditional homes in place of some modern settings to increase the accessibility of their art. Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has their own secret symphony series where performers head out into new venues that have never featured performers. The Botanical Gardens has become a mainstay for outdoor plays during the Summer months. Even cinemas are getting into the trend with new rooftop and outdoor options opening every month in abandoned warehouses, open lawns and pop up locations. But what about those traditional venues where they came from?


Art has never been confined to art galleries. It can be found inside people’s homes. It can be discovered in architecture. It can even be discovered down laneways filled with graffiti. And the latest effort to bring art in an accessible form to the people generally requires that it breaks free of the confines of galleries. But what happens to the galleries?

Galleries no longer hold a unique experience. In Melbourne, you can find the same artistic experience in a myriad of locations across the city. So it is time for galleries to win back a unique experience. And, across the world, a number of galleries are drawing on music to achieve this new service.

The National Gallery of Victoria is hosting Summer Sessions where musicians take over their grounds to showcase a different form of art amongst all the traditional art. Galleries across the world are engaging visitors with audio commentary through their iPhones. But the Guggenheim is behind the most exciting attempts at changing the traditional gallery experience . . . Silent Discos.

Known for its iconic internal spiralling architecture, this gallery has allowed itself to be taken over by silent discos at night – a time when it will usually be closed. As visitors enter, they are given a pair of wireless headphones which are playing the tunes being mixed by a series of DJs and performers as they wander throughout the gallery. No longer is the experience simply about engaging the visual senses. This creates an all-encompassing experience as you appreciate art visually, listen to music and groove your way from one exhibition to the next.

This, of course, has its target audience which is much younger than traditional gallery-goers. But it suits what they are used to with entertainment. The lives of younger generations constantly involve music as we roam around cities plugged into iPhones, so why wouldn’t you incorporate it into a gallery experience? It removes some of the stigma that galleries are stuffy, quiet places and replaces it with a much more on-trend (and fusion) vibe.

But galleries aren’t the only spaces that could be activated at different times of the day. Theatres and concert halls often sit dark during the daylight hours waiting for concerts to take place at night. Why not look into other artistic endeavours to fill these locations with people at times when the traditional activities aren’t happening?