Kylie Minogue’s hotpants and other pop culture gems to join permanent gallery in Melbourne

Still, of the 780,000-odd pieces in the collection, Minogue’s tiny lamé hotpants still manage to steal the show. Gingerly placed upon a pillow on a metal trolley, it would be relatively easy to pass them by. But these unassuming gold shorts – worn in the music video for her 2000 hit, Spinning Around, and often considered instrumental in Minogue’s comeback – are rumoured to be worth about $10 million, despite having been originally bought for only 50 pence ($A1) at a British flea market.

Kylie Minogue’s legendary gold hotpants from the Spinning Around music video.Credits:Justin McManus

“The hotpants come with a legend,” says Arts Center curator Margot Anderson. “Kylie had worn them, I think, to a party, and then the night before Spinning Around was filmed, she found them in her drawers. The rest was history.”

Beyond the glitz and glamor of the collection itself, visitors will also be encouraged to peek into the Arts Center’s first-ever conservation lab and photography studio to digitise collections which flank the exhibition.

“Arts Center Melbourne holds the great responsibility of caring [for]preserving, and sharing this incredible state collection, which, I believe, is of national significance and also global significance,” says Arts Center chief executive Karen Quinlan.

Samantha Hamilton, the Arts Center’s head of collections, says she hopes the collection becomes a “must see” in Melbourne, offering a glimpse into the work required for curation, the performing arts, and conservation.

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“I love working with collections because they connect us to humanity,” Hamilton says. “They show us how we’ve developed over time. They tell us stories about our diverse identities, and our social fabric. They provide insights into our technological advances, inspire creativity, and repositories of knowledge.”

Part of the state government’s $1.7 billion Melbourne Arts Precinct project, the new permanent collection will be the first facility of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Funding totalling $2.2 million (drawn from both the state government and philanthropic donations) has gone towards the creation of the conservation lab, internal exhibition corridor, and additional storage space.

“This is a labor of love,” says Dimopoulos. “Many of us have grown up on a diet of a lot of US and UK culture, music and performance. But we’ve also had really important moments in our history of Australian culture … the Arts Center is opening up the vault.”

The Australian Performing Arts Collection opens to the public in June 2023.

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