Thursday, August 03, 2006

2pm: Federation Square

Right across from Lord of the Fries lies Melbourne's most controversial urban redevelopment: Federation Square. Derided by critics as boxy, ugly and barren like Barry Humphries, Fed Square is conspicuously lacking in shade, greenery or curves.

It does, however, host some of Melbourne's best cultural institutions and a series of major events. Depending on the weekend, you might stumble across one of seemingly countless food festivals, protests, music, or the Homeless World Cup. It's also become a hub for the city - drawing huge crowds for major events like Rudd's apology to the stolen generation or the 2006 World Cup matches featuring Australia.

Even if the only entertainment on offer is the slightly annoying buskers, you can still find some pleasant peace and quiet along the Riverwalk or escape into a couple of fine museums: NGV Australia and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. NGV Australia contains a few floors of NGV's finest Australian and Indigenous works, and a series of temporary exhibitions like the recent Sidney Nolan retrospective and the wonderful Gordon Bennet show we saw last year. ACMI is the real highlight of Fed Square - there's a regular computer game space, a series of interactive pods that let you view all kinds of short films and video art, a cinema with one of the best programs in Melbourne, and a series of fascinating special exhibitions - we've been really impressed with the three we've been to: Eyes, Lies and Illusions, Pixar and Game On. It looks like they're going through a bit of a redevelopment at the moment, with a new permanent exhibition on the history of the moving image coming soon. Something new to look forward to! While there are plenty of food places around Fed Square, you're more likely to pay too much if you opt to dine there. Better to head back into the city and...

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