10 years on the UNESCO World Heritage List

30 June, 2014

The Royal Exhibition Building
The Royal Exhibition Building
Source: Museum Victoria

On 1 July 2014, it is 10 years since the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Royal Exhibition Building, adjacent to Melbourne Museum, was the first Victorian site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List and the first building in Australia to receive this prestigious acknowledgment.

The Hon Heidi Victoria MP, Minister for the Arts said Museum Victoria, as the custodian of the Royal Exhibition Building, continued to take great pride in the listing.

“This level of recognition on the world stage, along with a place on the National Heritage List, reinforces the Royal Exhibition Building’s position as an iconic piece of Melbourne and Australia's history to be treasured and celebrated into the future,” Ms Victoria said.

Dr Robin Hirst, Museum Victoria Acting CEO said the 10-year anniversary marked a pivotal triumph in the site’s history, supporting Museum Victoria’s commitment to ongoing protection and promotion of the Royal Exhibition Building.

“The site’s addition to the World Heritage List was a significant achievement for Museum Victoria, together with partners in the bid to secure the listing,” Dr Hirst said.

“The Royal Exhibition Building has a wealth of historic associations and continues, under our management, to host a great array of events and exhibitions enjoyed by tens of thousands of people each year.”

“Museum Victoria is continuing the work of maintaining the Royal Exhibition Building’s World and National Heritage values and exploring opportunities to further enhance the building as a major attraction in its own right.”

To mark the 10th anniversary, Museum Victoria will release the new book Visions of Colonial Grandeur – John Twycross at Melbourne’s International Exhibitions written by Drs Charlotte Smith and Benjamin Thomas. The book explores the history of Melbourne’s 1880s international exhibitions through the stunning art collection of 19th-century businessman John ‘Top Hat’ Twycross.

Dr Charlotte Smith, Senior Curator and principal author, said the book highlighted the Royal Exhibition Building as a cornerstone – and now last glorious survivor – of the 19th-century International Exhibitions Movement.

“The Royal Exhibition Building was built for the International Exhibitions that were seen as symbolic of the emerging globalisation of trade and industry,” Dr Smith said.

“During this time, John Twycross purchased hundreds of exquisite paintings, decorative art pieces and personal accoutrement, building a significant International Exhibitions collection. The collection was treasured by his family for four generations, and in 2009 just over 200 objects were generously gifted to Museum Victoria.”

Visions of Colonial Grandeur provides a fascinating insight into historical Melbourne and the thriving art trade of the 19th-century, featuring numerous images of beautiful and significant Twycross Collection objects. The book will be available for purchase from 1 July at the Melbourne Museum Shop, online at museumvictoria.com.au/shop and from selected retailers.

Vital to its World Heritage status, the Royal Exhibition Building has been continuously in use for multiple purposes since the 1880s exhibitions and trade fairs, and today still operates as a major event and exhibition venue for Melbourne. In Australian history, the building was the site of the first Federal Parliament and the first flying of the Australian flag in 1901.

For more information, interviews or access to the Royal Exhibition Building site:
Jacqui Bailey, Public Relations Officer – Phone: 0478 401 003 Email: jbailey@museum.vic.gov.au