After a two year closure and a major $135.8 million redevelopment, Melbourne's iconic Hamer Hall reopens today with a new look, a new sound and a brand new view of the city.
Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu invited all Victorians to join the celebrations and be part of the four day re-opening weekend.
"From the spectacular giant gladioli, Bouquet, on the Arts Centre lawn to free performances, exhibitions and tours of this magnificent venue, there is plenty to enjoy at the new Hamer Hall, and throughout the Arts Centre Melbourne complex, this weekend," Mr Baillieu said.
"This is a venue held with great affection here in Victoria. It has hosted everyone from rock and artistic royalty to actual royalty, but it's always been very much a hall for the people.
"Now, as Hamer Hall returns to the people of Victoria, refreshed and reinvigorated, it takes pride of place in Melbourne's cultural life, inviting people in to enjoy all that it has to offer, all day long," Mr Baillieu said.
Speaking at a media preview of the new Hamer Hall, Minister for Major Projects Dr Denis Napthine said the project would have a lasting effect on Melbourne's cultural life.
"Hamer Hall has been the centrepiece of Melbourne's renowned cultural precinct for 30 years but this new redevelopment will take the precinct to another level," Dr Napthine said.
"The refurbished Hall will sound better, look better, be easier to move around in and bring new audiences to the area. Arts Centre Melbourne expects the hall to draw an extra 600,000 new visitors to the area each year.
"When it was built thirty years ago, Hamer Hall was the catalyst for the whole redevelopment of the Yarra. Now it is set to do it again with a dramatic new river front entry and foyer, new restaurants and new opportunities for people to enjoy the arts both day and night.
"Enhancements to the Hamer Hall auditorium include improved acoustics; new seating; and cutting edge theatre technology. Patrons will find it easier to get to the bars and toilets at interval and easier to get in and out – the building can now be cleared in 10 minutes.
"An environment has been created that will deliver the best possible performances for audiences in unparalleled comfort and amenity. All this has been done while remaining true to Sir Roy Ground's and John Truscott's original design vision.
"Over three decades Hamer Hall has become a part of what it means to live in Melbourne and part of what makes our city great. Now it is set to reach a new level of excellence.
"I'd like to congratulate the team who have given so much to this project: builders Baulderstone, architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall, Arts Victoria, Major Projects Victoria and Arts Centre Melbourne as well as all the consultants and subcontractors who have worked to make Hamer Hall the best it could be," Dr Napthine said.