The Capitol acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. We respectfully acknowledge their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. We also acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.
Go beyond cat memes
Go beyond cat memes
Go beyond cat memes
Go beyond cat memes
Go beyond cat memes
Go beyond cat memes
Go beyond cat memes
Go beyond cat memes
Prototype 11.08.20
Sari Braithwaite in convo about video art
Prototype 11.08.20
Sari Braithwaite in convo about video art
Prototype 11.08.20
Sari Braithwaite in convo about video art
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Prototype 18.08.20
Tiyan Baker in convo about video art
Prototype 18.08.20
Tiyan Baker in convo about video art
Prototype 18.08.20
Tiyan Baker in convo about video art
Open 4 OHM
Open 4 OHM
Open 4 OHM
Open 4 OHM
Open 4 OHM
Open 4 OHM
Open 4 OHM
Open 4 OHM
Open House Melbourne
Watch a virtual tour through our iconic theatre
Open House Melbourne
Watch a virtual tour through our iconic theatre
Open House Melbourne
Watch a virtual tour through our iconic theatre
Better than IRL TBH
Better than IRL TBH
Better than IRL TBH
Better than IRL TBH
Better than IRL TBH
Better than IRL TBH
Better than IRL TBH
Better than IRL TBH
Open House Melbourne
Six Degrees Architects guide you through usually n/a to the public.
Open House Melbourne
Six Degrees Architects guide you through usually n/a to the public.
Open House Melbourne
Six Degrees Architects guide you through usually n/a to the public.
A crystalline palace
A crystalline palace
A crystalline palace
A crystalline palace
A crystalline palace
A crystalline palace
A crystalline palace
A crystalline palace
The Capitol
We’re putting the theatre back in the Theatre.
The Capitol
We’re putting the theatre back in the Theatre.
The Capitol
We’re putting the theatre back in the Theatre.

Prototype Conversations

“It’s deeply weird that the internet has made cats and radio famous, but not video art.” – Lauren Carroll Harris, curator, Prototype

Go beyond cat and corona-memes with our series of free, online conversations about video, art and the makings of both at a time when everyone is being sucked into the internet at high-speed.

Presented in collaboration with Prototype, these digital Q&As feature video artists from their Care Package series, a weekly newsletter delivering new, remixed, re-edited and under-seen works made by artists in lockdown, straight to your inbox.

“It’s deeply weird that the internet has made cats and radio famous, but not video art.” – Lauren Carroll Harris, curator, Prototype

Go beyond cat and corona-memes with our series of free, online conversations about video, art and the makings of both at a time when everyone is being sucked into the internet at high-speed.

Presented in collaboration with Prototype, these digital Q&As feature video artists from their Care Package series, a weekly newsletter delivering new, remixed, re-edited and under-seen works made by artists in lockdown, straight to your inbox.

On Tuesday 11 August Prototye curator Lauren Carroll Harris joins filmmaker Sari Braithwaite ([CENSORED]) to discuss Qiuzhuang (2020). Made remotely with filmmaker Katie Mitchell (Divided City) during lockdown, Qiuzhuang raises complex questions around art’s purpose or purposelessness, and the fine line that divides cultural cross-pollination and cultural colonisation.

On Tuesday 18 August artist Tiyan Baker will discuss her work Tarun (2020), which examines the reckoning of homecoming and belonging when Baker returns to her mother’s birthplace in Sarawak (colonised by the British and then Malaysia), to learn the Bidayuh language and understand the jungle culture that might have been her own.

The series wraps on Tuesday 25 August (artist to be announced).

Visit us right here each Tuesday at 5pm AEST to tune in to a screening of the work followed by a half-hour conversation. The virtual floor will open up to viewer questions at the end. All welcome.

Subscribe

While our physical doors are closed, our newsletter has updates on our digital programs, and you’ll be the first to know when our doors reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown lifts. We run giveaways and exclusive offers for our subscribers, too.

About Us

Fellini once said something about cinemas being the dream we dream with our eyes open. Our Theatre is one of the world’s most iconic cinemas, possessing all the charm, hypnotic charisma and commanding authority that Fellini had thought was lost from the cinema-going experience.

Fellini once said something about cinemas being the dream we dream with our eyes open. Our Theatre is one of the world’s most iconic cinemas, possessing all the charm, hypnotic charisma and commanding authority that Fellini had thought was lost from the cinema-going experience.  It is not lost, but very much here, in Melbourne. Welcome to The Capitol.

We’re putting the theatre back in the theatre and the spectacle back into the cinema-going experience. 

Video Tour

Watch replay

We recently opened our virtual doors for Open House Melbourne Weekend. Step backstage and explore The Capitol’s hidden corners with Peter Malatt, architect and founding director of Six Degrees Architects, and Professor Martyn Hook, Dean, School of Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT. Our guides take you behind-the-scenes, through The Capitol’s curving staircases, historic serveries and galleys, and spaces not usually accessible to the public.

This digital tour offers a truly intimate look inside The Capitol. You’ll see things you wouldn’t get to see if you were there IRL, and hear Peter and Martyn share some of the magic and the history behind “the best cinema that has ever been built, or is ever likely to be built”, as iconic Australian architect Robin Boyd once lavishly declared.

Take 2

We’re asking our friends across our film and creative communities to pick a film that’s available to watch online and tell us in two minutes or less what they love about it. Everything mentioned in this series is available to watch on free or paid streaming services.

Virtual Visit

Join us for a virtual experience of The Capitol from anywhere in the world, at any time that suits you. Our Virtual Visit invites you inside the spectacular Theatre, as well as the upper and lower foyers, Salon and Lounge at The Capitol. Stare up at the awe-inspiring ceiling (our own crystal palace), peek behind the stage curtain, and ogle the bold, geometric carpet in the foyers (gives The Shining’s carpet a run for its money).

Discover the Theatre and Foyer here. Then wander through the Salon and Lounge here.

Image: The Theatre in The Capitol. Photo: Tatjana Plitt

Our History

The Capitol was originally built in 1924 by celebrated architects Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin. The Chicago-Gothic-style theatre, then known as the ‘Capitol Theatre’, is considered their greatest interior design work. The Capitol was the first extravagant ‘picture palace’ to be built in Victoria.

It originally seated over 2137 people through sweeping stalls and circles, and today the updated capacity is still a grand 574. The theatricality of the movie-going experience was – and still is! – made more spectacular by the unique light displays in the crystalline ceiling, often choreographed to play in time with live orchestral scores during the silent film era.

The Capitol was originally built in 1924 by celebrated architects Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin. The Chicago-Gothic-style theatre, then known as the ‘Capitol Theatre’, is considered their greatest interior design work. The Capitol was the first extravagant ‘picture palace’ to be built in Victoria. It originally seated over 2137 people through sweeping stalls and circles, and today the updated capacity is still a grand 574. The theatricality of the movie-going experience was – and still is! – made more spectacular by the unique light displays in the crystalline ceiling, often choreographed to play in time with live orchestral scores during the silent film era.

‘That’ ceiling was created with 33,000 plaster crystals lit by thousands of coloured lights, creating the impression of a crystalline cave of wonder. Originally lit by incandescent globes in red, yellow, blue and green, today the ceiling displays are controlled by a digital matrix of hundreds of LED bulbs and data points – to the same utterly mesmerising effect. History nerds might enjoy watching this short documentary we put together about The Capitol’s origin-story. May we also direct you to this terrific article by Professor Lisa French, Dean, School of Media and Communication at RMIT, in Senses of Cinema, which offers more about The Capitol’s history, including a spotlight on the visionary contribution of Marion Mahony Griffin. 

The Capitol has been through several iterations of upgrades and modifications since 1924. RMIT University purchased the Theatre in 1999, running lectures during the day and hiring out to festivals on evenings and weekends. By 2014 it had fallen into critical disrepair, and the University closed the Theatre’s doors, readying it for the makeover that you see today.

Between 2014–2019 RMIT worked with Six Degrees Architects to restore The Capitol to its former glory and make considerable upgrades to the building. It reopened mid-2019 with an extended stage to host live theatre, music, talks, conferences and lectures, a 7.1 surround sound system, 35mm film projection, 4K digital projection, coffee and wine bars, and a direct link to RMIT’s Media Precinct, which allows remote broadcasting capability. The Capitol is now well equipped to deliver a new era of education to students by day, and culture to the city by night (/s and weekends).

Today we’re a community of culture lovers, not only focused on our first love – cinema – but on new media, creative arts, screen technology, design, performance and LED-powered, eyes-open dreams.