While I’m in Melbourne every week for work, my time to soak up all the glories of the CBD are largely restricted to an early morning walk via Mr Tulk or a brisk promenade up Collins St. Lunchtimes usually involve a mad dash for errands and lunch.
Being in the city on a day I would otherwise be home (thank you school holidays and accommodating grandparents), I had a spare hour or so before heading for the train back to collect the kids, and finally got to see “Til you Drop: Shopping a Melbourne History.
The exhibition is drawn primarily from the State Library of Victoria’s collection of engravings, photographs, ephemera and archival collections, and neatly packages a history of shopping and its impact on the Melbourne economy and psyche. It goes beyond the CBD to significant shopping precincts such as Chapel Street and Chadstone and touches upon the milk bar and the suburban shopping centre.
It looks at departed department stores, such as Georges, the Coles Book Arcade and Buckley and Nunn’s and with thanks to the Myer Archive, has a more extensive display on the history of Myer. One of my favourite parts of the exhibition was the ode to the Paris End of Collins Street and the photos of people shopping there inthe 1960s- very much a Mad Men moment for me!
You could spend your lunch break there quite easily absorbing all the information and history. Many of the exhibit’s information panels had quite wordy explanations, and you can spend a lot of your time reading. The exhibition brochure in the shape of a shopping bag was very cute, but the content of the exhibition is so meaty, a booklet or coffee table-style publication could be published.
I enjoyed it thoroughly and saw it as a great way to highlight the non- book collections that the State Library holds.
Afterwards, I walked through Melbourne Central and Myer, catching the tram back to Southern Cross. There may have been some shopping involved…