Ever wanted to peruse the personal collections of some of Australia’s biggest artists, like Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, and Kylie Minogue? How about rifling through the desk of Mushroom mogul Michael Gudinski?

A new exhibition of music memorabilia is giving punters the chance to do just that and more, in exploring the four decades worth of history gathered for Music, Melbourne + Me, a collaboration between Melbourne’s RMIT Gallery and the famed music mogul.

Highlights include Kylie Minogue’s diamante microphone, the original Nils Hutchison artwork of Skyhooks iconic Living In the ’70s album, as well as items on loan from Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Split Enz, and Crowded House never before available for public viewing; as well as material from the Mushroom archives, following the company’s 40th anniversary and rebranding back in February.

Gudinski has been the driving force behind the music exhibition, which will be running for free from 19th November until 3rd March next year at RMIT University’s Swanston St gallery. The exhibition will also include items from the personal collection of the Mushroom Group founder, Frontier Touring boss, 2012 Melburnian of the Year, and now Future Music Festival presenter.

Music, Melbourne + Me will show off vintage promotional material, tickets, merch, posters, awards, gold discs and old documentation – such as what it cost to book AC/DC for their first shows in Melbourne in the 1970s, as News Ltd reports.

“I have had offers to put the Mushroom memorabilia on display in the past, but it was always going to involve an entry fee,” Gudinski tells News Ltd of the free exhibition. “Music’s done so much for me and my artists, I would never have got involved in something that wasn’t free.”

Gudinski jokes that he may even “pop in and do a bit of work from the exhibition,” referring to the replica of his Mushroom HQ office showcased at the Gallery. “I grew up in an era where music was seen as something rebellious. So to see an exhibition like this, with the credibility of RMIT behind it, it’s really a dream come true.”

(Image: Jimmy Barnes & Michael Gudisnki in the mid-90s Source: The Mushroom Group)

There’s more to Melbourne, Music + Me than just showing off displays of Melbourne’s past. There will be an LED-lit dancefloor at the RMIT Gallery, as well as an interactive jukebox to be filled with 40 Melbourne music classics to be voted on by Herald Sun readers in a forthcoming poll.

The exhibition will also involve a series of free keynote speeches, with Hunters & Collectors frontman Mark Seymour, former Killing Heidi frontwoman turned solo star Ella Hooper, and director Richard Lowenstein (of Dogs In Space fame) are all locked in so far. Gudisnki has also teased that a series of Mushroom-associated bands will be performing live during the exhibition’s season.

“I can guarantee a lot of my artists will be able to pop in and perform, let alone anyone who might be here on tour. Most of the really successful musicians are music fans themselves. I think they’ll find it interesting to visit here,” he says. “I can guarantee a lot of my artists will be able to pop in and perform, let alone anyone who might be here on tour.” – Michael Gudinski

RMIT Gallery Director and Chief Curator Suzanne Davies was tasked with curating the treasure trove of memorabilia for the exhibition, which is designed as a celebration of Mushroom’s impact on Australian culture, as well as emphasising Melbourne’s crucial influence on the local and international music scene.

“Melbourne is Australia’s home of live music and over the past 40 years, live music venues, fashion and all other aspects of fandom and celebrity have become integral to the lives of many Melburnians – something this exhibition will celebrate,” says Ms Davies.

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle also applauded the exhibition, “[I] encourage everyone to see the exhibition, and witness the history of one of Melbourne’s music treasures.”

A proud Melburnian, Gudisnki also trumpeted the city as “undoubtedly the home of music in Australia.” Adding that: “The people in Melbourne love live music passionately, venues have flourished and concerts that come to Melbourne draw more people consistently than Sydney, which is a similar sized city… The interest in music has been here for a number of decades and I’m determined to see that continue and get stronger.”

Aside from earmarking the influence and history of the company he founded in 1972, before it swelled into arguably Australia’s biggest and most important independent music force, Gudisnki hopes the Melbourne, Music + Me exhibition will inspire those looking to continue the city’s musical legacy.

“Hopefully, kids will come to this exhibition and learn something about the history of music in Melbourne, or see that there is an opportunity in music for them,” he says. “If anyone gets inspired and ends up getting any form of job that they love because they’ve come to this exhibition, that’d be more than enough for me.”

Melbourne, Music + Me Exhibition

19th November 2013 to 3rd March 2014
RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Admission:  Free

Opening hours:
11am till 5pm – Monday to Friday
11am to 7 pm – Thursdays
12noon – 5pm – Saturdays
Closed public holidays