The RMIT Capitol Theatre will reopen in 2019 and be transformed into a world-class cultural and education destination.
The iconic landmark will be a thriving creative centre where the Melbourne community can interact, connect and collaborate.
The RMIT Capitol Theatre will also provide incredible opportunities for students to gain hands on experience from industry professionals, access to world-class learning and teaching facilities, and exposure to research and innovation opportunities.
The refurbishment effort is occurring over multiple phases and includes café and bar facilities, collaboration spaces, lighting and sound upgrades, and cinema projection enhancements.
RMIT University has also announced a partnership with ACMI (the Australian Centre for Moving Image) to become home to its extensive range of festivals and events as they undergo their refurbishment - hosting more than 500+ sessions and expecting 100,000+ visitors per year.
The best cinema that was ever built or is ever likely to be built.
Robin Boyd, renowned Australian architect and RMIT alumnus
The Capitol Theatre was designed by renowned architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. The Chicago Gothic-style theatre is considered some of their greatest interior design work.
Opening in 1924, the Capitol Theatre (part of Capitol House building) was designed to evoke a crystalline cave, with a spectacular geometric plaster ceiling concealing thousands of coloured lamps within a complex three-dimensional design.
The Capitol Theatre was the first large and extravagant ‘picture palace’ to be built in Victoria, seating a 2000+ audience and providing Melbourne with blockbuster movies and live performances.
By the early 60s the theatre faced demolition. A public outcry resulted in a campaign to ‘Save The Capitol’ which was organised by the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects and The National Trust of Australia (Victoria).
The seating capacity was reduced to 800 and the original stalls and street level entrance made way for the current shopping arcade that now extends under the theatre to Howey Place.
Opening to new audiences in the 80s and 90s, it continued to delight generations of Melburnians as a home to some of the top arts festivals, including MIF and the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
The theatre was once again saved from demolition when RMIT University purchased it as a spill over lecture venue in 1999. They celebrated its 75Th anniversary in the same year with a ceremonial relighting.
By 2014, the worked required to keep the Capitol Theatre open become so sustainable that the building had to close to the public.
The RMIT Capitol Theatre Appeal was launched in November 2017 to raise the required funds to refurbish this iconic landmark and return it to the people of Melbourne.
Reopened by RMIT as ‘The Capitol’ in May 2019, it is now a contemporary centre for culture, education and innovation.
- 1924: the Capitol Theatre opened to become one of Australia’s most architecturally acclaimed cinemas.
- 1999: RMIT acquired the iconic building to preserve its heritage and inject new life as a theatre and festival venue
- 2014: the restoration works were so substantial that The Capitol Theatre closed to the public
- 2017: the RMIT Capitol Theatre Appeal launched to reactivate this iconic landmark