The ultimate guide to Connection at THE LUME Melbourne

Connection at THE LUME

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted August 01, 2023

After the popularity of Van Gogh Alive and Monet and Friends comes Connection, the largest-ever celebration of First Nations culture through art, touch, food, dance and sound. Here’s everything to know about Connection at THE LUME Melbourne. 

“Our culture is a broad base of how we tell stories. And everyone has a different interpretation, and different song, on a different storyline, of how they've shared their stories… cave paintings, making tools, message sticks… dance… song, and we wholly bring the essence of Indigenous [people in] all of its different mediums.”

Wayne Quilliam is humble in his approach to art and storytelling. While he is a professor, curator and well-known artist who has hosted over 300 exhibitions worldwide, been in 500 publications and was awarded Artist of the Year (2009), he prefers to be titled as an Aboriginal Storyteller.

“I’m about bringing our Peoples’ culture to life,” he says. Quilliam is referring to Connection, the latest triumph he co-curated, currently on display at THE LUME Melbourne.

Connection features over 110 Indigenous artists’ work over visuals, dance, video, and sound, including nearly 650 digital and original artworks projected and displayed in the 3,000 square metre immersive experience. Quilliam’s aim was for people to truly feel the exhibit, and he’s constantly interested in the impression left on visitors after their experience.

“When we developed this, we needed to bring this essence of what we as Aboriginal artists feel as our storytelling,” he explains.

While he’s been to “beautiful shows,” all over the world, THE LUME Melbourne felt like the right place to show the Indigenous exhibit, as “our culture is just so immersive,” he says.  

As well as works from Indigenous cultures from Australia and the Torres Strait, Quilliam’s own photographs and videos feature, as well as displays of physical artworks.

“What I love as a storyteller is that I'm always coming from a different angle, different perspective... really to refresh my own creativity and our ideal stories,” he says.

Growing up in Tasmania, Quilliam only found his “fascination with culture” after travelling the world with the Navy.

Coming back, “I wanted to know about who I was as a young Aboriginal man,” he says.

He got into documenting culture around Australia, from older Indigenous artists, their stories and songlines, to new generations also featured in the Connection exhibit, some for the first time.

“We wanted to make sure this was a really inclusive show,” he says.

“[So] that's why we call it Connection. It was to bring all our eyes, from the young modern contemporary ones, right through to our beautiful old storytellers from the Torres Strait to Tasmania.”

Here’s everything to know before visiting the Connection experience at THE LUME Melbourne. 

RACV Members save 10 per cent on tickets to this experience by using the promo code RACV10 at check out.


Connection at THE LUME

Connection is the largest ever exhibit of collective Indigenous art and storytelling. Image supplied by THE LUME Melbourne.


Guide to Connection at THE LUME Melbourne

What is THE LUME Melbourne?

Located in Victoria's capital city, THE LUME Melbourne is the world’s biggest digital art gallery, and the first permanent immersive art space of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Reaching four storeys high and spread over 3,000 square metres, THE LUME Melbourne is a multi-sensory, walk-through art space with rotating experiences featuring picture, video, light, projections, touch, and sound.

The gallery has previously featured works by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, which saw over a million visitors through its doors.

Where is THE LUME Melbourne?

As the name suggests, THE LUME Melbourne is located in Melbourne’s CBD within the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), 5 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf VIC 3006, Australia (MCEC Door 18).

‍ When is THE LUME Melbourne open?

Opening hours for THE LUME Melbourne are as follows:

  • Monday - 10:00am - 6.30pm, with last entry at 5:00pm
  • Tuesday - 12:00pm - 6.30pm, with last entry at 5:00pm
  • Wednesday - 10:00am - 6.30pm, with last entry at 5:00pm
  • Thursday - 12:00pm - 6.30pm, with last entry at 8:00pm
  • Friday - 10:00am - 9.30pm, with last entry at 8:00pm
  • Saturday - 10:00am - 9.30pm, with last entry at 8:00pm
  • Sunday - 10:00am - 6.30pm, with last entry 5:00pm

Please note that during the school term, Tuesday and Thursday mornings are reserved for school excursions. The gallery will open to the public from 12:00pm.

Dates and times may be subject to change due to exhibits, demand and private events. 


Connection at The Lume

THE LUME Melbourne aims for art to come alive all around you. Image supplied by THE LUME Melbourne.


What is Connection at THE LUME Melbourne all about?

Connection brings together stories from Indigenous cultures from all walks of life, from young to old, famous artists to homemade creations, Northern Territory to the Torres Strait. There are works of art and sound from well-established artists like Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Yothu Yindi and Archie Roach, to paintings and iconography from budding artists as young as 11 years old.

The idea for Connection came from Quilliam, co-curator Adam Knight, and THE LUME Melbourne creator, Grande Experience’s Bruce Peterson. Curation was two years in the making, from inception to opening night.

“We chatted through different scenarios about how [to] represent our culture… [what] would be modern and contemporary that the world could view, but also was truly representative to us?” thought Quilliam.

“How do we truly represent all our different nations in a way that could be interpreted very differently?”

They found that while the cultures and forms of art and storytelling varied, “the most inclusive way [our stories are told] are from the land, water or sky.”

This set the tone for the exhibit of works, where visitors can either wander through, or sit and immerse themselves in a 50-minute experience of moving imagery, photographs, projected dance, song, and storylines from First Peoples across these three Earth elements.

“We want everybody to feel a part of our culture,” says Quilliam. “It’s as simple as that.” 


Connection at The Lume

All artworks presented are from artists who submitted pieces, and have been recognised and paid for their contributions. Image supplied by THE LUME Melbourne.


When is the Connection experience running? How long do I need at THE LUME Melbourne?

Connection at THE LUME Melbourne has been running since the 23rd of June 2023, with tickets currently available until October 2023.

It is suggested visitors set aside at least 90 minutes to fully enjoy the Connection exhibit, where they can immerse themselves in the 50-minute showcase of video, song and photos, and go on to explore the galleries and multi-sensory experiences. 

How can I get tickets to Connection at THE LUME Melbourne?

Tickets can be bought online or at the venue.

RACV Members save 10 per cent off entry to Connection at THE LUME Melbourne by using the promo code RACV10 at check out.

Who is the Connection exhibit at THE LUME Melbourne for?

Connection is an amalgamation of Indigenous works from a variety of different cultures, and is open for all ages, and people from all walks of life.

School groups may also look to attend, and THE LUME Melbourne venue is disability, infant, and child friendly.

Which artists feature in Connection at THE LUME Melbourne?

Quilliam and his contemporaries put a call out to any Indigenous artists who were looking to participate, whether they were well-known or first timers, including Quilliam’s own brother and daughter who are showcasing their works in the experience.

“We didn't want to be exclusive,” he explains. “We… opened it up to all of our communities. We're all on the same level. We said listen, we want everybody to be on an equal footing, and we will all get paid the same. And we will then work towards what will fit, what will come together.”

What resulted is a rich tapestry of stories both contemporary and traditional from over 110 artists who answered the call, displaying not just the oldest living culture on Earth, but the newcomers who continue to share in the art of storytelling for new generations to come.

By doing this, Quilliam adds, “I feel like I’m starting again.”

And he means this in a positive light - by featuring artists from all backgrounds, cultures and ages, he’s become inspired.

“It’s given me the impetus at age 60 to go, wow. What am I going to do next? And I can’t wait to see what comes out of it.” 


Connection at The Lume

Connection invites everyone to appreciate the stories of First Peoples through art. Image supplied by THE LUME Melbourne.


Are there any special events or attractions for the Connection experience?

Visitors are welcomed with a Smoking Ceremony, an artistic interpretation of cleansing and reflection when gaining permission to enter the ‘Country’ experience area in Connection. 

As well as the main space, the attraction also features a host of Indigenous art spaces to explore, including the Gallery of Original Art, a collection of physical paintings and artworks; Emily’s Wall, the first public display of 53 artworks from renowned First Nations artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye; and ArtPlay, an immersive room displaying an interactive installation featuring artworks depicting land, water, and sky Country. In ArtPlay, the projections move with the visitor’s hand movements, a meditative practise designed to reflect on the reciprocal relationship with Country.

On Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, yoga and Pilates classes can be booked within THE LUME Melbourne space, while in-house dining experiences can also be booked in advance.

Where is the best spot to sit at THE LUME Melbourne?

This may come down to the eye of the beholder! There are many ways to view Connection, whether it’s planting yourself down and lying in one spot, walking around throughout the exhibit, looking at the projections up high or on the floor, or viewing from atop the mezzanine above.

Ultimately, says Quilliam, it’s not so much about the best way to just ‘see’ everything, as it is to feel it.

“Hopefully what the show does is, opens the question up about who we are, where we're from, [and] what we do, and we want everyone to walk with us,” he says.

By the end of the show, he hopes people can “walk with us and enjoy the oldest living culture in the world.”

Will the Connection experience be going overseas?

Potentially. Indigenous art can be quite the commodity overseas, with prominent collections being shown everywhere from Hong Kong to Germany, from Singapore to downtown Virginia in the United States.

“'We’re getting messages from London, Paris, New York, Berlin, all these places,” says Quilliam.  

“When we created it, it was purely to bring our stories to the forefront to really share the incredible diversity of Aboriginal people and the significant achievements through art, dance and culture.”


Connection at The Lume

Quilliam's greatest pleasure has been giving a platform to up and coming artists. Image supplied by THE LUME Melbourne.


Does THE LUME Melbourne have accessible services? 

THE LUME Melbourne has an accessible lift to the gallery and mezzanine, accessible toilets, and augmented hearing sets for the hearing impaired.

Prams can be taken into the venue. 

Staff can also be contacted for specific assistance, or for individual requirements, contact THE LUME Melbourne directly.  

Does Connection at THE LUME Melbourne have a dress code? 

There is no dress code for attending THE LUME Melbourne, although any offensive clothing or signage is not permitted.

Can I bring bags, backpacks, or coats into THE LUME Melbourne?

Larger backpacks and coats can be held in the venue's cloakroom.

Visitors are not permitted to bring in prohibited items, including outside food and drink, animals, bicycles, professional recording equipment, art supplies, flags, banners, or flammable items.

Is it okay to take photos and videos during Connection at THE LUME Melbourne?

While professional recording cameras, drones and tripods are not permitted, casual visitors are welcome to document their experience of Connection through photos and videos on their phones or camera.

How can I get to Connection at THE LUME Melbourne?

THE LUME Melbourne is located within the MCEC in Melbourne’s CBD.

It is easily accessible by car, train, bike, bus, and tram. Flinders Street Station and Southern Cross Station are around 15 minutes' walk to THE LUME Melbourne.

You can plan the most efficient journey to THE LUME Melbourne with the free journey planner app arevo.

Can I park at THE LUME Melbourne?

Visitors to Connection at THE LUME Melbourne can get all day parking at the South Wharf Retail Carpark or MCEC Carpark for a discount $12 rate.

Drivers will need to get a discount parking voucher from Visitor Experience staff before returning to their vehicle. 


RACV Members save on tickets to Connection at THE LUME Melbourne

Can I bring in my own food and drink to THE LUME Melbourne?

No outside food or drinks are allowed inside THE LUME Melbourne. There is an onsite café, where cuisine is changed for each exhibit.

Is there food and drink at THE LUME Melbourne?

For Connection, it was important to Quilliam that the sensory Indigenous experience included the palette. Mirri, the in-house café, serves up cuisine curated by Mark Olive, a renowned chef and Bundjalung man serving vibrant First Nations produce.

Celebrating Indigenous culture, heritage and storytelling, Olive’s all-day menu consists of dishes like smoked Indigenous meats, roasted native scented vegetables, warm scones with quandong jam, Indigenous wines, and warm beverages.

For a more indulgent visit, Feast for the Senses is a three-course dinner event that can be booked while taking in the Connection experience.

What should I take away from Connection at THE LUME Melbourne?

Interestingly, there is not a word for ‘art’ in Indigenous culture. Art is, in its essence, storytelling to Indigenous Peoples. To Quilliam, this means sometimes when he looks at a photo, he’s not just seeing it – he hears it.

“Once you [understand] how the stories work, you can actually see it and hear it - it's like a picture comes to life really, because it's a whole story.”

It's then the convergence between old and new storytelling that is really at the forefront of Connection.

“We sit back and think about how storytelling perspective has changed in particular… but now, with technology, we [can] go back to… these stories and keep them for literally eternity," he says.

"In the old days, [if we lost an] artist, [we’ve lost that story], unless that was shared directly with the family or other artists. Sometimes, we don't know what the story behind it was. [But now], documenting it and using technology, we [can] now keep a greater record.”

Overall, says Quilliam, “this show goes a part [of the] way to sharing the wonderment and beauty of culture, and how to embrace it, and [that] we are all human beings.”


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