Melbourne’s top 5 winter exhibitions in 2012

WHO said staying indoors was boring? Immerse yourself in Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention, the wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, Napolean’s empire and more this winter. 

Winter is the best season to get your fix of Melbourne’s incredible arts and culture. There are some great exhibitions in town at the moment and visiting them is the perfect excuse to escape the cold and wind for a couple of hours. If that’s not tempting enough, remember, the heating at museums is warm… and free.


1. Oz Comic-Con

Oz Comic-Con is the ultimate pop-culture and fan expo. It features multi-genre content from film and television stars to comic book and anime artists, gaming demonstrations and cosplay competitions.

But the event’s not just about dressing up and ogling the celebs who will be there. Budding comic book creators can have their portfolio reviewed by the experts and attend creative workshops and master classes.

Why is it worth a look?

Two words: Stan Lee (cue the hysterical screams). Yes, this is your chance to meet and get a picture with a comic industry icon. You can also get up close to Patrick ‘Professor X’ Stewart and Willow ‘Primrose Everdeen’ Shields.

Remember though, the early bird gets the worm and the celeb sessions are always the first things to fill up at a comicon, so do your research before the day. There are plenty of famous guests to see and stalk, so take your pick and decide which autographs you will hunt. You can bring your own stuff to be signed or hunt out collectibles, like comics, clothing, films and original art, at the event itself.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
2 Clarendon Street, South Wharf

30 June – 1 July

Adult $20 ($35 for both days)


2. Napoleon: Revolution to Empire

Napoleon: Revolution to Empire is an exhibition about French art, culture and life from the 1770s to the 1820s. Its story runs from the first French voyages in search of new lands to Australia during the reign of Louis XV to the end of Napoleon’s transforming leadership as the first Emperor of France.

Why is it worth a look?

Have you ever had that head-scratching moment when someone tells you about Voltaire, Rousseau, the bourgeoisie or Bastille? Fear no more! This exhibition is a great place to learn about France and its history so you can impress your friends and look smart. But seriously, this is the exhibition for Francophiles (that’s people who love France) and is probably going to be the best thing to hit our shores all year.

You can learn about the Age of Enlightenment that ultimately led to the French Revolution. Get a closer look into the life of Napoleon and his wife, Josephine. Familiarise yourself with different classic art styles. Find out more about the French’s marvellous explorations to Australia centuries ago (yes, they really did come here). And last but definitely not least, enjoy Art after Dark, a free live music event (5pm every Wednesday) while you’re there.

National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Road

2 June – 7 October
10am-5pm (9pm every Wednesday)

Adult $26
Concession $22.50

Joint ticket with Game Masters:
Adult $38
Concession $ 32


3. The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia

The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia features more than 170 artefacts collected from the three great centres of Mesopotamia in modern Middle East: Sumer, Assyria and Babylon.

Themes in the exhibition include palaces and royal power, religious beliefs and rituals, burial practices and royal tombs, and the myths and legends that surround ancient Mesopotamia. So keep an eye out for the amazing gold jewellery and epic stone reliefs of battle scenes.

Why is it worth a look?

Mesopotamia was as magnificent as ancient Greece or Egypt, but its treasures are rare and closely guarded. It’s not often that you get to see an exhibition about this incredible civilisation, let alone one that provides an amazing snapshot of almost 3,000 years of ancient Mesopotamian history.

Hard-core history lovers can also attend exhibition-related lectures, supported by the University of Melbourne (they range from free to $12 depending on the lecture) and satisfy their curiosity in Mesopotamian mythology.

But most importantly, all the 170 artefacts on display come from the world famous Middle Eastern collection of the British Museum. So you’re getting to see part of this world class museum without having to travel to England, and how often do you get to do that?

Melbourne Museum
11 Nicholson Street, Carlton

4 May – 7 October
10am-5pm (9pm every Thursday)

Adult $24
Concession $16


4. Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention

Wallace is an inventor. His house is full of labour saving gadgets and gizmos, though they don’t always go to plan. At Wallace’s right hand is his ever faithful (and long suffering) four-legged friend, Gromit. Both are the brainchild of Nick Park and are the main characters in his Oscar award-winning clay animations (claymations) .

More recently, Wallace and Gromit played hosts on the TV series A World of Invention, which inspired this exhibition. It highlights everyday inventions that have changed our lives and how future inventors can make it big and protect their ideas.

Why is it worth a look?

This is the place to unleash your childlike curiosity and inventiveness. Did you know that the first electric drill, commercial flight recorder and bionic ear were all invented in Australia? These prototypes, of course, are on display and this exhibition.

Not quirky enough? Check the Telly-scope II, the Blend-o-matic, the Thinking Cap, the Karaoke Disco Shower, the Chocolate Teapot and the Ice Hot Water Bottle (God knows what these things are). Finally, for design and engineering geniuses, take on the role of an apprentice inventor, create your own household tools and logos, and find out how to protect your big ideas.

2 Booker Street, Spotswood

Until 11 November

Adult $9
Concession $7.5


5. Game Masters

Featuring 125+ playable games, Game Masters celebrates the world’s most influential game designers across arcade, console, PC and mobile platforms. The exhibition specifically showcases the work of more than 30 videogame designers, from the creators of Nintendo’s iconic character-led worlds of Mario and Link to the deeply immersive stealth combat of Hideo Kojima’s METAL GEAR SOLID.

Why is it worth a look?

If the simple fact that you can play 125+ of the best and most beloved games is not enough motivation  for you to check this out, then Game Masters offers the rare opportunity to play Yu Suzuki’s arcade games from the 1980s, Hang-On and Out Run, take the physical challenge of a dance battle in Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy’s Dance Central 2, test yourself in a four-player version of Firemint’s Real Racing 2 and be immersed in a special 3D display of Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Child of Eden.

You can also attend live forums and talks by world-renowned game designers like Warren Spector and Tim Schafer, watch the films that have the inspired game creators or tune up your skills in creative workshops like Machinima: The Art of Virtual Filmmaking and Girls in Games (sorry guys, the latter is exclusively for game-lover chicks and it’s free!).

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Federation Square
28 June – 28 October

Monday to Wednesday: 10am-6pm
Thursday and Friday: 10am – 10pm
Saturday and Sunday: 9.30am-6pm

Adult $22
Concession $17.50

Joint ticket with Napoleon: Revolution to Empire
Adult $38
Concession $32
Forums, movies and creative workshops might cost extra, so check online at

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