ACMI, Australia’s national museum of screen culture, has today unveiled details of its ambitious multiplatform museum model, delivering a digital experience that will transport visitors far beyond its location in Melbourne’s Fed Square, as part of its $40 million AUD redevelopment.
Ahead of its highly anticipated 2021 reopening, the museum has outlined a multiplatform model powered by a new experience operating system (XOS). It will see physical and digital content connected in ways not yet seen in Australia – setting the museum apart and establishing ACMI as one of the most innovative and digitally transformed museums in the world.
Conceptualised by ACMI Director & CEO Katrina Sedgwick OAM in 2015, long before pandemic thinking changed the way we interact with museums, the new model is designed to offer visitors a highly accessible and more multi-faceted contemporary experience – an offer where digital technology is not simply used as a marketing tool but is an inherent component of the experience itself. By investing in curatorial and digital expertise in parallel, ACMI has reimagined what a museum experience can be.
“The new ACMI will offer an immensely rich experience that people can engage with in new ways: at home, on their devices and here at the museum itself,” Sedgwick explains. “We are launching a new brand identity and entirely new online presence, inviting people to visit our museum no matter where they are in the world. In the same way we curate and design exhibitions and programs for the physical museum, we have been developing them specifically for online across the breadth of screen culture – film, TV, videogames and art.”
Sedgwick continues: “We often consume the same stories via different platforms; we might read the comic book then watch the film adaptation and later play the videogame. Each platform brings out something new in the story. We have taken this concept of multiplatform storytelling and applied it to our museum. Thanks to our XOS, what we can now offer is a deeply integrated journey that extends, expands and enriches your visit, be that in person, or online.”
ACMI’s Chief Experience Officer Seb Chan and the ACMI team took Sedgwick’s vision and designed museum-wide technology XOS to integrate visitor experiences across every platform – before, during and after a museum visit.
“ACMI’s new technological approach (embodied in the XOS) redefines the museum experience,” says Chan. “It makes the knowledge held by our curators and communities accessible to our visitors wherever they are, allowing them to go much deeper into film, TV, videogames and contemporary art. Perhaps what I’m most excited about is this ability for visitors to greatly expand their interest in screen culture and be led by our experts into watching and playing in new ways.”
The XOS is at the core of ACMI’s digital infrastructure and will also power what’s known as the Lens – a handheld device used by visitors to tap and collect objects of interest throughout the museum and later explore on any device, anywhere in the world.
“When our building opens, visitors will be able to leave with elements of what they’ve seen,” says Chan. “The technology then allows us to take the information visitors have collected and extend their exploration via a highly connected ecosystem of curated content.”
A taste of this curated content is now available, with the museum launching The Story of the Moving Image – a rich, online extension of the new 1,600 sqm year-round exhibition that will be on display when audiences can visit the museum in the new year. In addition to The Story of the Moving Image, a new online art gallery and cinema have also been announced, alongside a suite of new education resources and public programs.
"ACMI has always been one-of-a kind and this new model will take the ACMI experience to a new level – completely redefining what a museum can be,” says Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson. “Our world-leading ACMI team has been working behind the scenes to create a true museum of the future by opening it up to people across the state, the country and the world.”
Sedgwick concludes: “COVID-19 may have slowed the physical transformation of our museum, but it also presented an opportunity to accelerate our digital expansion. It has validated our focus on, and investment in, the technology that will drive our museum into the future. Come take a look!”
Notes to Editors
New digital programming highlights
The Story of the Moving Image
A rich multimedia exhibition, The Story of the Moving Image invites viewers to explore the stories of the moving image, in a digital expansion of ACMI’s forthcoming year-round physical exhibition. A single object can take visitors on a journey of discovery that encompasses techniques to learn, films to watch, videogames to play, long reads and more. It will continue to expand over coming months. Online now at acmi.net.au.
Cinema 3 is a new video-on-demand service offering a unique selection of cinema classics, revivals and new releases from homegrown and global talents. With new titles available seasonally, Cinema 3 will also showcase ACMI’s many annual film festivals. The service launches with the Australian premiere of the digital restoration of the modern French classic, Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999), the critically acclaimed Romanian Neo Noir, The Whistlers (Corneliu Porumboiu, 2019) and Japanese proto-punk drama Funeral Parade of Roses (Toshio Matsumoto, 1969). Launching November 19 at acmi.net.au.
ACMI will debut a dedicated stream of online-only artwork and performances in this new digital exhibition space. Gallery 5 launches with the premiere of Delusional World by Shanghai-based video, installation and performance artist Lu Yang as part of AsiaTopa 2020. This mind-bending, hyper-pop online performance features a contemporary dancer fitted with motion capture technology, who projects fantastical digital avatars of the artist. Live-streamed from Chronus Art Centre in Shanghai for one night only, this experimental performance presents a darkly humorous virtual world where the audience and artist interact through a live chat. Launching November 11 at acmi.net.au.
Experience Operating System (XOS)
XOS is a software architecture that connects ACMI’s internal systems to our galleries and online platforms. It allows the museum to quickly design and build new experiences while enabling visitors to take elements of ACMI’s exhibitions home with them.
ACMI Director & CEO Katrina Sedgwick OAM
Katrina has been Director & CEO of ACMI since 2015. She has a particular interest in supporting cross-disciplinary practice and an extensive background as a commissioner, creative producer and festival director. Her previous roles include Head of Arts for the national broadcaster ABC TV as well as founding Director/CEO of Adelaide Film Festival. The Festival’s $1 million AUD AFF Investment Fund was recognised with a week-long celebration at MoMA in 2011. She is on a number of arts and advisory boards, and in 2020 was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to performing arts, screen industries and visual arts administration.
ACMI Chief Experience Officer, Seb Chan
Seb leads ACMI’s Experience & Engagement division. He has been a leading international voice in the human-centred digital transformation of cultural institutions for 15 years. His teams at ACMI are responsible for the Lens and the Constellation among many other projects. Prior to this he led the digital renewal and transformation of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York and drove the Powerhouse Museum’s pioneering work in open access, mass collaboration and digital design during the 2000s. His work has won awards from American Alliance of Museums, One Club, D&AD, Fast Company and Core77.
We’d like to acknowledge the generous support of our corporate and philanthropic partners and individual donors, whose vital contributions will enable us to make our vision a reality.