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Igloo at the Winter Village 2021
Photograph: Supplied

Things to do in Melbourne this weekend

Check out our curated guide to all the fun activities you can do in Melbourne now that we're out of lockdown

By Rebecca Russo, Nicola Dowse, Cassidy Knowlton, Rushani Epa and Adena Maier
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Now that Melbourne is officially out of lockdown, it's time to head out and explore our beautiful city again. From comedy festivals to hilarious plays about grammar, we've got you covered with our extensive list of everything happening in Melbourne this weekend. 

Before making plans, don't forget to check the rules on what you can and cannot do in Victoria right now, and be sure to check with venues about their capacities. 

If you're still keen on staying home, check out our guide to all the best ways to bring Melbourne fun indoors.

RECOMMENDED: The best winter getaways from Melbourne.

 

Things to do in Melbourne this weekend

Two hot chocolates with melted chocolate being bored over them. A honeycomb frame is in the background
Photograph: Supplied

1. Get cosy at the Hot Chocolate Festival

Things to do Food and drink Multiple venues

 

There are 31 hot chocolate flavours available as part of the festival, with eight new flavours released each week during August. Each hot choc is created using a couverture chocolate base, which has artisanal ingredients added to it, before being finished with a giant, handcrafted marshmallow. Flavour highlights from this year's line-up include the Tim Tam Caramel Bomb, Devonshire Cronut and Binge Night (which comes complete with mini marshmallow magnums and caramelised popcorn). 

The Smith Drag Brunch
Photograph: The Smith

2. Let loose at Drag Brunch

Things to do Food and drink The Smith, Prahran

What could be better than huge hair, drag performances and club bangers? What about if you threw in unlimited booze? And had all that at breakfast time? Coinciding with the airing of RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under, the Smith is running a bottomless drag brunch every Sunday from noon to 2pm, and then again from 3 to 5pm (which, yes, we admit is not breakfast time anymore, even on a Sunday).

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The Winter Village, winter, exterior overview
Photograph: Supplied/Sense Communications

3. Embrace the chill at the Winter Village

Things to do Food and drink Federation Square, Melbourne

The Skyline Terrace at Federation Square has been transformed into a free, family-friendly winter wonderland complete with ice skating, food trucks and pop-up bars, as well as a magical igloo village. There are winter-themed treats perfect for keeping warm, or you can book a private igloo and get a food and beverage package that starts at $49 per person.

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O'Brien Icehouse people ice skating
Photograph: Timothy Burgess

5. Make the most of winter and go ice skating

Things to do Ice skating

Catapult yourself back into winter or escape the hot summer heat at one of Melbourne's ice rinks. Regardless of your ability, ice skating is fun and accessible for all (especially when there's a pumping soundtrack blasting through the arena). Here's our rundown of the best spots for ice skating in Melbourne.

Disney The Magic of Animation at ACMI
Photograph: Pheobe Powell

6. Visit the ACMI for Disney: The Magic of Animation

Art Drawings ACMI - Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne

After a massive renovation, ACMI is ready to host big winter masterpieces exhibitions again. Now open, the Disney exhibition features over 500 original artworks that date from the 1920s to the present day, including sketches and concept art from Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie to new release Raya and the Last Dragon. Every piece exhibited has been specially selected by the Disney Animation Research Library (which, crazily, has around 65 million pieces of art from the Disney headquarters).

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Vaccination
Photograph: Creative Commons

7. Book in for a vaccine if you're eligible

News City Life

Every public health official in Australia agrees that mass vaccination is the only way out of this crisis. We at Time Out recommend that you get vaccinated as soon as you can if that is appropriate for your own health. Please speak to a medical professional about what is right for you. 

Palace Westgarth interior
Photograph: Charlie Kinross

8. Go to the movies

Film

Streaming is convenient, but sometimes you just can't beat the experience of going to the cinema. The ruby-red curtains, huge screens with surround sound, cushioned chairs and high ceilings give an immersive experience that you simply can't have at home. Take that experience to the next level by catching a flick at one of these theatres that are works of art themselves. From art deco wonders to new-age marvels, these architectural marvels are the best-looking cinemas in Melbourne.

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Hideaway Cottage Victoria Airbnb
Photograph: Airbnb/Supplied

9. Stay in a cosy cabin near Melbourne

Travel

If you're not a fan of roughing it but love the outdoors, try staying in a cosy cabin near Melbourne. Perfect for getting off the beaten track without having to sacrifice access to indoor plumbing or needing to cook your food over an open flame, these cabins let you explore the bush while still enjoying creature comforts.

Michelle Braiser performing comedy with a microphone on stage
Photograph: Supplied/ Comedy Republic

10. Book tickets to Replay Festival

Comedy Comedy Republic, Melbourne

Try as you might, it is awfully hard to see every single comedian at Melbourne International Comedy Festival (though comedian Blake Everett really gave that a red hot go this year, tweeting about more than 100 shows he saw). The good news is you've been given a second swing at the best of the fest, with Comedy Republic's Replay Festival.

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People watching a movie in Fed Square
Photograph: Supplied/Fed Square

11. Head down to Fed Square for Anything but Square

Things to do Fairs and festivals Federation Square, Melbourne

Melbourne’s famous square will become a bastion of French history, art, music, cinema, food and fine wine from Bastille day on July 14 through to early September. 

During that time, you can check out the Australian debut of ‘The Knot’, a massive installation by French artist Cyril Lancelin. Presented by major partner Tango Energy, ‘The Knot’ takes its name quite literally, encouraging visitors to take an immersive walk through a giant inflatable pink artwork in the shape of a tangled piece of wool. 

Angels Garden Party, 2014,
Photograph: Supplied/Jewish Museum

12. Visit the Mirka Mora exhibition

Art Jewish Museum of Australia, St Kilda

There have been many exhibitions on Mora, but none quite like this. The Jewish Museum of Australia has announced Mirka: the most extensive survey of Mirka Mora ever. The museum is turning into an “immersive Mirka-world” for the exhibition, which features never-before-exhibited works from the Mora family and Mirka’s studio archives. 

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Fireside Yarra Valley 2021
Photograph: Wine Yarra Valley

13. Sip on wines at Fireside Yarra Valley

Things to do Food and drink Yarra Valley, Tarrawarra

From July 17 to August 1, you’ve been invited to fill your belly and warm yourself up with the finest winemakers across Yarra Valley. After going virtual for 2020, Fireside is back with a 16-day programme filled with winemaker dinners, fireside brunches, pizza parties, cooking classes and more.

Jessica Clarke s working-class Effie in Iphigenia in Splott
Photograph: Supplied/Jodie Hutchinson

14. Catch a session of Iphigenia in Splott

Theatre Drama Red Stitch Actors Theatre, St Kilda

If you know your ancient mythology, Iphigenia was a woman very hard done by indeed by a despicable man: her father, Agamemnon. He's determined to raze Troy for the perceived slight that is Helen's flight for love, but is thwarted when his fleet falters in the harbour, all because he slaughtered the goddess Artemis' favourite stag. When she demands a human sacrifice to unfurl the winds he needs to wage war, Iphigenia is the price. He cruelly fools her with the false promise of a fake marriage, only to betray and murder her.

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Coburg Drive-in
Photograph: Supplied

15. Watch a movie from your car at these drive-in cinemas

Film Outdoor cinema

For some mid-century nostalgia, head to one of these drive-in cinemas in and around Melbourne. You pay by the carload, so it's way cheaper than going to a standard movie theatre and you can BYO snacks, drinks, pillows and blankets. Snag a parking spot with a good view of the screen, tune into the FM broadcast and enjoy your movie. 

Installation view of Plans for The Planet: Olaf Breuning for Kids from 2 5 June – 3 October 2021 at NGV International, Melbourne.
Photograph: Tom Ross

16. Teach your child about the environment at Plans for the Planet

Kids Exhibitions NGV International, Southbank

Located on the ground floor, the exhibition is free to enter and runs until October 3. The installation is populated with Breuning’s illustrations and characters, including a forest and a floor of lava, and utilises engaging multimedia activities to inspire children to think about issues like the environment, pollution and wildlife.

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Jurassic World by Brickman exhibition
Photograph: Supplied

17. Play with Legos at Jurassic World by Brickman

Things to do Exhibitions Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Wharf

 

From April 1 to July 11, you’ll be able to enter an immersive Lego experience set to be the largest Lego experience in Aussie history. Made in partnership with the Jurassic World franchise, this new event will have over 50 large-scale dinosaurs, props, scenes and activities made using over six million Lego bricks. 

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A woman with red hair and wearing a red dress laughs while drinking a milkshake with two straws. Next to her is a person-sized comma posed to look like it is drinking from the other straw like they're on a date.
Photograph: Lachlan Woods

19. Let out your inner grammar nerd at Comma Sutra

Comedy Musical comedy The Butterfly Club, Melbourne

It’s a hoot, with gloriously witty sing-song lines and more than a few hilarious visual cues, including a handy lesson on the surprisingly similar Auslan signs for boat and vagina, the confusion of which would surely startle a deer. Wearing a snazzy red dress and tights adorned with ampersands, Fitzhardinge holds the audience wrapped in the palm of her precision punctation hands. Onlookers shriek along.

Two sepia sketches side by side. One features donkeys acting as doctors for a man in bed, the other features a woman crying over a table while dark owls and bats swarm her
Photograph: Images courtesy Museo Nacional del Prado and National Gallery of Victoria

20. Check out Goya's works at the NGV

Art Drawings NGV International, Southbank

Spanish artist Francisco Goya is considered one of the country's most eminent artists, with his romanticism paintings (often portraits or religious scenes) earning him great acclaim. 

But Goya did more than just paint, and after suffering a serious illness that left him deaf, Goya returned to the foundation of all arts – that is, drawing. And just like his paintings, Goya's drawings have drawn great attention and praise for their often dark and wry depictions of universal human experiences and contemporary Spanish societal issues.

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Virginia Gay pulls open a red blazer she's wearing to reveal an illustration of a human heart on her chest. Flower illustrations are overlaid on the photo
Photograph: Mark Conlan

22. Check out the gender-swapped version of Cyrano

Theatre Southbank Theatre (Melbourne Theatre Company), Southbank

The well-known tale of Cyrano de Bergerac finds new life in Virginia Gay’s gender-swapped adaptation. In Cyrano, the titular character is played by Gay herself, an enigmatic and enchanting wordsmith who falls for Roxanne. True love’s course is made all the bumpier by Roxanne’s attraction to Yan – who despite being less than erudite, somehow starts saying the most beautiful things to her (in reality, the words are Cyrano’s).

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Classic Rooftop
Photograph: Classic Cinemas

23. Bundle up and watch movies outdoors

Film Outdoor cinema

Outdoor cinemas are one of the best ways to experience films in summer. Are you keen for a classic garden cinema experience? Or what about an inner-city rooftop? You could even catch a film by the beach. These are our top choices of alfresco cinema in Melbourne.

Patricia Puccinini A Miracle Constantly Repeated Rising Festival 2021
Photograph: Eugene Hyland/Supplied

24. Visit the mysterious Flinders Street Station Ballroom for an exhibition

Art Installation Flinders Street Station, Melbourne

Everyone in Melbourne has heard of the mysterious Flinders Street Station Ballroom, but few have seen it. The once grand hall has hosted lectures, a library, fitness classes and (of course) dances, but has been closed to the public since 1985. But it's coming back to life for Rising festival, with leading contemporary artist and Melbourne local Patricia Piccinini turning the near-mythic space into an immersive, hyperreal installation.

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Two people on beanbags on Melbourne Star
Photograph: Supplied

25. Hop on the Melbourne Star’s Floating Winter Chalets

Things to do Food and drink Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, Docklands

Punters can take a 30-minute ride in a private, heated glass cabin and curl up on a comfy bean bag while you do it. Plus, you can sip on warm mulled wine and dig into a cheese platter complete with croutes, muscatel grapes and quince paste.

Installation view of Maree Clarke: Ancestral Memories
open from
Photograph: Tom Ross

26. Visit the Maree Clarke exhibition

Art The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

The exhibition, which is currently on until October 3, shows more than three decades worth of work from Clarke that spans photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewellery, video and more. Clarke is the first living artist to exhibit at the NGV to have ancestral connections to the land the gallery is built on, and the artist is seen as something of a leader in the reclamation of Aboriginal art and cultural practices in the south-east of Australia.

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An image of three magpies on an abstract background of blues and browns
Photograph: © Ammie Howell and BJ O’Toole

27. Catch an online viewing of Parrwang Lifts the Sky

Music Classical and opera Your Place, Melbourne

Audiences around Australia can discover a traditional Wadawurrung story imagined as an all-ages opera in Parrwang Lifts the Sky. Written and composed by acclaimed soprano Deborah Cheetham (Yorta Yorta), Parrwang Lifts the Sky is based on a traditional Wadawurrung tale about a magpie – Parrwang  who hatches a plan with his new human friends Tjatjarrang (Big Sister) and Koki (Brother) to raise the sky from the ground and lift the world out of darkness. 

A man sits on a jungle gym in an industrial, heavily grafittied space. He looks down at a woman who is peering up at him.
Photograph: Pia Johnson

28. Immerse yourself in Because the Night

Theatre Malthouse Theatre, Southbank

There’s been a lot of hype about Because the Night, Malthouse Theatre’s new production where the audience can freely explore an immersive set while the cast perform around them. “Immersive” really is the word here, and for once the oft overused term doesn’t feel like a gimmick – nor does the intensely detailed open set undermine the integrity of the production. Because the Night is undeniably a work of theatre, but one that approaches the art with a bolt of inspiration that will attract new audiences to the discipline. 

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Queens of the Damned pirate
Photograph: Queens of the Damned

29. Put on an eyepatch and head to this pirate experience

Things to do Mission to Seafarers, Docklands

Whether you're a fan of Captain Jack Sparrow or the guy who tells Tom Hanks, "I am the captain now," we're pretty sure you haven't seen pirates like these before. Cabaret performers Queens of the Damned are putting on a pirate-themed dinner theatre production, fresh off a very popular run at Old Melbourne Gaol. This performance takes place across four different rooms in the 100-year-old Mission to Seafarers.

A man wearing a brown suit tenderly holds a woman wearing a red skivvy from behind.
Photograph: Lachlan Woods

30. Think about our planet at When the Rain Stops Falling

Theatre Theatre Works, St Kilda

Australian theatre has a tendency to churn through new works and spit them out the back end; very few of our plays get remounted compared to countries like the US or the UK, so the layers of silt required for them to become “classics” never has the chance to build. Andrew Bovell’s 2008 When the Rain Stops Falling is one of the exceptions, having been restaged plenty of times both nationally and internationally since its debut in Adelaide. It isn’t hard to see why: a work of shimmering humanism and pathos, it only increases in urgency as the planet tilts further towards its own destruction.

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Westin Cheese High Tea
Photograph: Supplied

31. Try this un-brie-lievable High Cheese

Things to do Food and drink Lobby Lounge - The Westin Melbourne, Melbourne

What’s better than gorging yourself on scones, finger sandwiches and Champagne at a regular high tea? Gorging yourself on piles and piles of cheese at the Westin’s un-brie-lievable High Cheese event.

Yes, the insanely successful, sold-out event is back for 2021. The idea for High Cheese began when Westin executive chef Michael Greenlaw teamed up with Anthony Demia from Maker and Monger to bring a series of cheeses together in both sweet and savoury dishes.

High Cheese brings some favourites from last year's menu plus a few new additions to the table. Dig into alpine cheese scones with white wine and Gippsland Jersey butter, baked le Duc Vacherin with garlic, thyme and wine with quinoa, soya and amaranth sourdough, Cervelle de canut finger lime spread with Yarra Valley Dairy fresh curd and Roquefort and cognac dip with beurre bosc pear spiced chutney and housemade crackers. 

Usually the Westin's High Cheese is priced at $98 per person and is available every day from 11am until 8pm. That price includes free-flowing coffee, tea and hot chocolate but you can also grab a glass of wine or Champagne which is priced by the glass.

At present, the Westin realises we can't leave our houses, so you can have this experience at home courtesy of Providoor. A new takeaway option is available for $120 and it includes a High Cheese at Home hamper stuffed with sweet and savoury treats. Order yours here.

Bottomless cocktails and a main at Pontoon
Photograph: Pontoon

32. Have bottomless drinks by the water at Pontoon

Things to do Food and drink Pontoon, St Kilda

For every Saturday in July from noon to 5pm, Pontoon invites you to bust your wintertime blues with bottomless drinks and a main each for $65 per person.

Located within the much-loved Stokehouse Precinct in St Kilda, this eatery offers gorgeous views overlooking the bay, and during its bottomless sessions you can kick back and listen to resident DJs while sipping on endless cocktails, beer, wine, and bubbles. 

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Treasures of the Natural World Melbourne Museum
Photograph: Eugene Hyland/Supplied

33. See the oldest, rarest and strangest artefacts of the world

Things to do Exhibitions Melbourne Museum, Carlton

Treasures of the Natural World features 200+ items from the Natural History Museum’s enormous (and world-famous) collection. Every item holds some kind of significance within our understanding of the natural world. 

There are objects from the personal collection of Charles Darwin including extinct animals (a massive sabre-toothed cat is a highlight) as well as the world's biggest butterfly. 

Claude Monet, 'Grainstack (Snow Effect)' 1891. Oil on canvas, 65.4 x 92.4 cm. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Photograph: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

34. See some famous French Impressionist artwork at the NGV

Art Paintings NGV International, Southbank

French Impressionism is host to arguably some of the most famous (and most loved) artists of all time. Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Van Gogh and Degas are just some of the artists who achieved such acclaim that they remain household names even a century after their deaths. This winter you can see some of the artist's most beautiful and well-known works at the NGV's new Winter Masterpieces exhibition, French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

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An elderly man with short white hair and only one warm meditatively smears black paint on a white wall. He is covered in black paint too.
Photograph: Mark Porkorny

35. Take in Mike Parr's latest installations

Art Installation Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Arguably Australia's most famous performative artist, Mike Parr is transforming Anna Schwartz Gallery as part of his new solo exhibition Half Way House. Over the course of three months, Parr – aka the guy who lived under a Hobart road for Dark Mofo – is presenting four blind peformative works and installations at the Flinders Lane gallery.

An oil painting on men in a shearing shed. In the centre is a dark-haired man shearing a ram.
Photograph: National Gallery of Victoria

36. Learn about the Australian Impressionist era

Art Paintings The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Some of the most well-known Australian Impressionist paintings are currently front and centre at the Ian Potter Centre. She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionism brings together nearly 300 Australian Impressionist paintings from the likes of Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Jane Sutherland, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, Clara Southern and John Russell. Works featured in the exhibition include what are easily some of the most recognisable Australian paintings, including Tom Roberts' 'Shearing the Rams' and Jane Sutherland's 'Field naturalists'.

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Big Weather - NGV Australia
Photograph: Supplied/NGV Austral

37. Explore Australia's weather at the Ian Potter Centre

Art The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

The weather has long been the go-to topic, especially in Melbourne (talk about four seasons in one day, am I right?). The weather is more than just small talk, however – it is intrinsically linked to the climate and the environment. Big Weather explores Australia's weather – and specifically the knowledge, stories and perspectives on the weather as told by First Nations artists. The exhibition showcases works from Indigenous artists that are related to the weather, including representations of ancestral rain, hail and storm spirits; works exploring climate change-induced extreme weather events; and the place of animals and how they're affected by the environment and weather.

A collection of quirky, friendly-looking porcelain figurines
Photograph: Simon Strong. Image courtesy of the artist and Scott Livesey Galleries.

38. Check out quirky sculptures by Vipoo Srivilasa

Art Sculpture and installations Linden New Art, St Kilda

Vipoo Srivilasa's porcelain sculptures might be made of the same material as your nana's best crockery, but that's about where the similarities end. The Thai-born, Melbourne-based ceramic artist has a knack for creating sculptural works that don't take themselves too seriously, and that's as apparent as ever in his new exhibition, Wellness Deity.

 

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Man sitting on a park bench listening to Knot by Darkfield Radio
Photograph: Empty Bottles

39. Take a terrifying audio journey with Knot

Things to do Your Place, Melbourne

You're sitting on a park bench listening to your headphones when a woman comes up to you asking for help. She is wearing a coat that's too big for her, and she doesn't remember how she got there. Are these cigarettes in her pockets hers? What does the alarm on her watch mean? And wait... what's in the box?

Questacon "Born or Built - Our Robotic Future" - Friday, 31 May 2019
Photograph: Steve Keough

40. Learn about robots and AI at Scienceworks

Things to do Scienceworks, Spotswood

If you’ve ever watched the films Her or Ex Machina you’ll know how easily the lines between AI and humans can blur and how harrowing that can be. Scienceworks’ latest exhibition Born or Built? explores how sophisticated robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have become, how easily they can mimic human beings, and delves into the evolution of technology. 

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Photograph: Matt Murphy

41. Get your wands ready for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Theatre Drama Princess Theatre, Melbourne

The first rule of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is that you don’t talk about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Safeguarding spoilers is an expected responsibility for anyone who attends the Potter-verse’s first on-stage outing. There’s even a hashtag: #KeepTheSecrets. But in truth (as far as theatre critique is concerned, at least), JK Rowling needn’t have worried. This marathon, five-hour spectacle has a plot so dense and sprawling, so wonderfully, unashamedly elaborate, it would take many thousands of words more than any theatre review to even scratch the surface.

tommy wiseau, the room
Image: The Room

42. Laugh at terrible movies at Lido Cinemas

Film Special screenings Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn

You can keep your Oscars, your Golden Globes, your worthy French films. Give us a terrible movie that we can laugh at any day. And that's exactly what Lido Cinemas is doing, with a monthly screening of notoriously terrible movies on the first Friday of the month. Even better, the event is being hosted by Zachary Ruane, of side-splitting comedy troupe Aunty Donna. First cab off the rank is ultimate terrible movie classic The Room.

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Becoming You: An Incomplete Guide exhibition at Immigration Museum Melbourne
Photograph: Tony Empire Collective

43. Get in your feels at Becoming You: An Incomplete Guide

Museums History Immigration Museum, Melbourne

The glory and pain of our formative years never leave us. The awkwardness, the heartache, the moments of soaring joy and the losses that crushed us often feel as real as the day they happened. The Immigration Museum is now plumbing these universal experiences in an immersive exhibition that’ll have you feeling the entire spectrum of human emotion.

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