The Capitol Theatre is not just a building: it’s part of the story of Melbourne. In 1999, it became part of RMIT University
The best cinema that was ever built or is ever likely to be built.Robin Boyd
After opening in 1924, the Capitol Theatre provided a dazzling backdrop for some of the first blockbuster movies.
The Capitol was designed to evoke a crystalline cave, with a spectacular geometric plaster ceiling concealing thousands of coloured lamps within a complex three-dimensional design.This is where, after it opened in November 1924, audiences were amazed by a new invention – the silent moving picture.
In fact, they got much more than that at the Capitol, with live theatre performances before each screening, a full orchestra playing a prologue and first large Wurlitzer organ in Australia.
It opened up to new audiences in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and again in the 2000s as a festival venue and RMIT lecture theatre – continuing to delight generations of Melbournians for its distinctive architectural expression.
RMIT bought this magnificent theatre in 1999, when it was in danger of being demolished. The then-Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Beanland AO, recognised the importance and cultural significance of the building, and wanted to ensure its future.