This museum was officially established under the terms of the Victorian Arts Centre Act 1979 and is widely considered to house Australia's premier specialist performing arts collection. In 2000 the Act was amended, conferring State collection status. The Museum collects in five primary areas: circus, dance, music, opera and theatre. Significant holdings include the Dame Nellie Melba stage wardrobe, the J.C. Williamson Melbourne Archives, the Dame Edna Everage-Barry Humphries collection, the Australian Ballet collection, the Circus Oz collection, the Bell Shakespeare Company collection and the Beatles-Australian Tour Archive. The collection numbers in excess of 200 000 items and includes objects (artwork, awards, costumes and accessories, props, puppets, stage design and technical equipment), media (moving image, oral history, photographs and sound recordings) and paper-based holdings (posters, programs, scrapbooks, and business and personal archives). The collection is accessed via a research service and extensive loan program. Temporary exhibitions are staged in the George Adams Gallery, and the collection is displayed in the foyers of the theatres and Melbourne Concert Hall. The museum has close ties to similar collections located at the Adelaide Festival Centre, Queensland Performing Arts Complex and His Majesty's Theatre in Perth.