Culture and heritage

Stunning images reveal secret spaces

A person standing in front of round, whimsical, brightly coloured sculptures.

Feast your eyes on photographs of iconic and never-before-seen Melbourne locations captured during lockdown, including deserted stages, hidden rooftops and new street art.

We designed our Melbourne Digital Time Capsule project to reconnect local people with their city and help future generations understand what life was like during COVID-19.

Taking advantage of our quiet city, we asked photographer Ray Reyes (@rayofmelbourne) to capture images of more than 20 locations of historical and cultural significance.

The photographs show iconic spaces ‘on pause’ due to the pandemic, places usually off-limits to the public, and businesses as they took cautious steps towards reopening.

‘It was an extraordinary experience photographing Melbourne during lockdown. There was an eerie feeling seeing empty streets and your favourite shops closed,’ Ray said.

‘I have been photographing the City of Melbourne for years and witnessing these changes was heartbreaking, but I was also so lucky to take photos of the city during its toughest time.

‘I’d like to really thank the people who assisted us for each location to make this project possible, safe and sound.’

One of Ray’s favourite assignments was photographing one hundred UooUoo sculptures waiting in the wings of a massive North Melbourne warehouse.

The UooUoos were decorated by local artists for Me and UooUoo: The RCH150 Anniversary Art Trail supporting The Royal Children’s Hospital, but the launch date was delayed due to lockdown. Keep an eye out for the UooUoos around town from January to March 2021.

To browse some of the best images, and the stories behind them, visit this What’s On Melbourne blog post. You can also view the images in person through the exhibition at Melbourne Visitor Hub.

The images taken for the Melbourne Digital Time Capsule will also be preserved in our City Collection.

Alongside these new images, the City Collection includes more than 8000 eclectic items that reflect the stories of our city, including an Aboriginal scar tree, mayoral portraits and a vintage bottle of Moomba spumante. To learn more, visit City Collection.

Did you know

The Melbourne Digital Time Capsule project isn’t the only one of its kind. Organisations in major cities around the world have been creating archives of life under lockdown, including the Los Angeles Public Library.

Schools have also asked children to create time capsules of their experiences of learning from home.

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