Royal Exhibition Building

DISPLAYING POSTS FILED UNDER: Royal Exhibition Building (16)

Royal Exhibition Building

The Royal Exhibition Building is one of the world's oldest remaining exhibition pavilions. Gloriously restored and still used for exhibitions, it was the first building in Australia to achieve a World Heritage listing.

Motorclassica

Author
by Natasha D
Publish date
2 November 2011
Comments
Comments (4)

Natasha works in public relations for IMAX Melbourne and the Royal Exhibition Building.

If you are a car enthusiast, a historian or somebody who takes interest in the evolution of popular culture, you would have found something of interest at Motorclassica, the motor vehicle exhibition held at the Royal Exhibition Building from 21 to 23 October.

The exhibition featured more than 150 veteran, vintage and classic motor vehicles worth more than $100 million. Eighty-six years after the Motor Show first opened at the Royal Exhibition Building, Motorclassica brings an amazing collection of vehicles that are a step back in time.

But for me, the most enjoyable thing about Motorclassica was the story attached to every vehicle brought in for display – some of them outright intriguing. This shiny red 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet is the only one of its kind in Australia and has an interesting history: it was originally owned by a prominent Third Reich Official.

1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet
Image: Natasha Duckett
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This 1932 Chrysler Imperial Sedan looks like something out of an old New York Gangster movie, because it could well be! This model was believed to have been owned and driven by the New York gangster, Jack "Legs" Diamond.

1932 Chrysler Imperial Sedan 1932 Chrysler Imperial Sedan
Image: Natasha Duckett
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This 1973 Holden Brock HDT LJ GTR XVI Torana made its first appearance at Bathurst in 1973 and went on to become the stuff of legend with Brock going on to win the 1973 Manufacturer's Championship and the 1974 Touring Car Championship in this car.

 1973 Holden Brock HDT LJ GTR XVI Torana 1973 Holden Brock HDT LJ GTR XVI Torana
Image: Natasha Duckett
Source: Museum Victoria
 

But according to car enthusiast Norbert Probst it is this 1969 Brabham BT28 Formula 3 vehicle that stole the show:

1969 Brabham BT28 Formula 3 vehicle 1969 Brabham BT28 Formula 3 vehicle
Image: Natasha Duckett
Source: Museum Victoria
 

"Jack Brabham built his own cars, drove them, was his own mechanic. He was the all rounder of Australia. He did it all well," said Mr Probst.

Motor Show at the Royal Exhibition Building, May 1963. Motor Show at the Royal Exhibition Building, May 1963.
Image: Edwin G. Adamson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Victorian Hot Rod Show, Royal Exhibition Building, 20-22 January 2012

Melbourne Open House

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
28 July 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

Since 2008, Melbourne’s architectural gems have thrown open their doors for one weekend a year as part of Melbourne Open House. This year the Royal Exhibition Building is among the 75 theatres, tunnels, halls, houses and more that will welcome visitors on 30 and 31 July, 2011.

Royal Exhibition Building interior Interior of the Great Hall of the Royal Exhibition Building with a view of the decorated dome.
Image: John Broomfield
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A new interpretive display on the mezzanine level will provide Melbourne Open House crowds with more information as they admire the REB’s magnificent murals and arches. It includes wonderful historical pictures of the life and times of Melbourne’s World Heritage building – photos of it in the glory days of International Exhibitions, through to its many uses during the mid-20th century, its restoration and World Heritage listing in 2004.

A newly produced documentary exploring the recent reconstruction of the 1880’s parterre beds, scroll garden and ‘German’ garden will be shown in the REB theatrette.

Royal Exhibition Building exterior Royal Exhibition Building exterior, December 2008.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Royal Exhibition Building website

Rippon Lea and REB

Author
by Nicole A
Publish date
14 April 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

This guest post comes from Nicole Alley, who works in the Webteam. She is a geek at heart who loves taking photos.

I joined the National Trust this year, and recently visited Rippon Lea House & Gardens in Elsternwick. Rippon Lea is a 19th century suburban estate significant for its mansion, garden and outbuildings. And, as I discovered, it has a few connections to our very own Royal Exhibition Building too.

Rippon Lea Estate mansion and buildings Rippon Lea mansion and the expansive lawn leading to the lake.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Nicole Alley
 

I started my visit with a tour of the mansion, where I noticed a print of the Royal Exhibition Building hanging on a wall. Below it was a black and white print that I also recognised; it's of a painting by Tom Roberts showing the opening of the first Parliament of Australia at the Royal Exhibition Building in 1901.

Photos inside Rippon Lea mansion
Top image: Lithograph by C.Troedel & Co of the Royal Exhibition Building in 1880. Bottom image: A print of Tom Roberts' painting of the opening of the first Parliament of Australia, also known as The Big Picture.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Nicole Alley
 

I asked our guide, Jim, what the connection was. He explained that Sir Frederick Thomas Sargood, who created Rippon Lea, attended the opening of Parliament at the Royal Exhibition Building. Jim pointed to a face in the image: "That's him there." I knew Jim hadn't just picked a random face to liven up his story; Roberts was required to include at least 250 recognisable faces in his painting, including members of the new Commonwealth Parliament, and created a sketch with a key to the names. Sargood was a Senator at the time and is listed at number 121.

What's more, Sargood was the Executive Vice-President of the Commission for the 1888 Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition, held at the Royal Exhibition Building. He was largely responsible for bringing out the conductor, Sir Frederick Cowen, at great expense, to establish an orchestra for the exhibition. (This Collections Online theme page explains how significant music was at the exhibition, and to Melbourne life in general.)

After the tour I set out to explore the grounds. With wide lawns, shrubberies, flower beds, shady trees, and cool features like an orchard, lake, boathouse, fernery and lookout tower, it was picturesque and adventurous. Growing up here would've been great – just imagine how long a game of hide and seek would've lasted!

Lake at Rippon Lea Estate Part of the lake at Rippon Lea Estate. The water is green because it is covered in duckweed.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Nicole Alley
 

There's a windmill too. When Sargood created Rippon Lea, the site wasn't connected to Melbourne's water supply so he devised a sophisticated rainwater collection, irrigation and drainage/recycling system. The windmill pumped the water through underground storage tanks and pipes and ensured the entire estate was self-sustainable. Rippon Lea was later switched across to the main supply, however the National Trust is now in the process of reinstating Sargood's system.

And that's another connection: in February we completed our World Heritage, World Futures project to reinstate the 1880s garden on the Western Forecourt of the Royal Exhibition Building. Before the garden went in, we installed an underground system of tanks and pipes that will collect and distribute rainwater to Carlton Gardens, including the fountains and ponds, and also to the Forest Gallery and Milarri Garden inside Melbourne Museum.

Back at work, I did some further reading and found a few more interesting pieces of shared history between these two grand 19th century sites:

  • They were established within a decade of each other: Rippon Lea Estate in 1868-69, and the Royal Exhibition building in 1879-80.
  • They were both included in the National Heritage List in 2004. (That same year, the Royal Exhibition Building was also inscribed on the World Heritage List.)
  • Both buildings were designed by Joseph Reed of the architectural firm Reed & Barnes.
  • Rippon Lea's garden was created in the Gardenesque style, as was Carlton Gardens, where the REB is situated.
  • William Sangster designed Carlton Gardens (in conjunction with Joseph Reed); he was also brought in by Sargood to redesign Rippon Lea's garden in 1882.

Links:

Rippon Lea House and Gardens

Royal Exhibition Building

Royal Exhibition Building in Collections Online

REB garden finished!

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
28 February 2011
Comments
Comments (3)

“The fountain is fountaining!” announced a colleague last Thursday. He’d passed the French Fountain in the eastern forecourt of the Royal Exhibition Building and noticed that it was flowing for the first time in ages. Years of drought and water restrictions meant the fountain has been out of action. However now that there are over a million litres of water stored in new tanks under the REB’s western forecourt, the fountain can run again.

It was recomissioned for the opening of the newly-completed German Garden, a careful restoration of the original garden that stood on the site for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. You’d never know that under the lush lawns and new garden beds – which follow the exact shape of the 1880 design – there’s a massive water tank and network of pipes to collect and distribute rainwater. Not only the gardens around the REB, but also Melbourne Museum’s Forest Gallery and Milarri Garden will benefit from this new sustainable water supply.

Completed western forecourt garden The Royal Exhibition Building's completed German Garden in the western forecourt on Rathdowne Street.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Thursday’s event marked the completion of the 18-month project World Heritage, World Futures. Even as the speeches were underway, people were wandering through the new landscape after so many months of it being hidden behind construction hoardings. Special guests, Minister for Consumer Affairs, the Hon Michael O’Brien, and Margaret Gardner AO, President of the Museums Board of Victoria, snipped the ceremonial purple ribbon and declared the garden open.

Guests at the garden opening Guests at the garden opening. L-R: Dr Patrick Greene, CEO of Museum Victoria; Dr. Anne-Marie Schleich, German Consul General; Professorr Margaret Gardner AO, President of the Museums Board of Victoria; the Hon Michael O’Brien, Minister for Consumer Affairs and the Right Hon the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Please come and admire the new garden with its restored iron gate, reinstated urns and stately plantings on your next visit to Carlton.

Performers in period costume Performers in period costume test out the new garden.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Lavender and jacarandas

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
1 February 2011
Comments
Comments (2)

In Melbourne's sizzling 38ºC heat today, the landscaping crew are planting out the Royal Exhibition Building western forecourt. The larger trees - including jacarandas, oaks and araucarias - are already planted. Pots and pots of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina) and other plants have arrived and will go into the ground this week.

Plants in truck Plants arriving in trucks.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

  pots of lavender Plants in pots lined up near the central circular garden.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Workers on the REB site Landscapers planting out patches of lamb's ear.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The landscape architect, Barrie Gallagher from CDA Design Group, used plant catalogues from the 1800s, newspaper reports and early pictures of the site to design a garden that would reflect the original planting. The design is an informal arrangement of plants that would have been common in Victorian-era gardens, including sage, penstemon, flaxes and cabbage trees, within the beds around the formal circular driveway. Wonderful fragrant plants, such as mock orange, daphne and roses, will ensure the western forecourt garden will soon delight our noses as well as our eyes.

A golden morning

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
29 January 2011
Comments
Comments (8)

Have you ever looked down at the footpath in Melbourne's CBD and wondered about those 20cm round bronze plaques that seem to lead a trail through the city? Well, they are the path of the Golden Mile Heritage Trail. This walking tour explores Melbourne's buildings, laneways, streets, characters and history from its beginnings through to modern times. And, on a beautiful sunny Melbourne morning last week, I went to discover what it was all about!

The tour started at Federation Square, on the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets, one of Melbourne's liveliest spots for over 150 years. Our tour guide set the scene for the rest of the walk, describing the history of the buildings around us. From the 1852 gold rush era St Paul's Cathedral on one corner to the famous Young & Jackson's pub of 1861 opposite; from the Federation era opulence of Flinders Street Station of 1910, to the ultra contemporary public spaces of Federation Square, this intersection provides a physical snapshot of the city's history.

Sandridge Bridge Sandridge Bridge
Image: Nicole Davis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We next walked along the Yarra talking about how Melbourne was built up around this spot from its beginnings as an Aboriginal meeting place to the coming of Europeans to today. We chatted about some of the characters in the city's early history, such as John Batman, John Pascoe Fawkner and Robert Hoddle, and how they shaped the city. Our guide also pointed out interesting sites like the outlet for the creek that runs under Elizabeth Street and the Sandridge Bridge. This Bridge was originally a railway bridge and was the line that took immigrant passengers from Port Melbourne to Flinders Street Station before embarking on a new life in Australia. Now a pedestrian bridge, its sculptures and text panels explore the waves of people,from Melbourne's Indigenous inhabitants onward who have crossed the river on this spot.

Immigration Museum was next, where the tour officially starts. I turned tour guide for a few minutes, guiding our guide through the Immigration Discovery Centre and explaining what we do here.

We then meandered through some of my favourite sites in Melbourne - its laneways! I got to pop my head inside the Mitre Tavern and found out the fascinating history of the Savage Club, plus discovered a new spot I hadn't previously known about and will definitely be popping back to. Rutherglen House is an 1850s bluestone residence/warehouse located on Highlander Lane. Today it's still a private residence!

After our little laneway exploration, we wandered up Collins Street discussing the progress of Marvellous Melbourne and the boom and bust of the 1880s to 1890s. Despite the many modern office blocks that I always feel characterise Collins Street, there are actually a surprising number of buildings from the 1870s to 1900 period that survive. There are some fabulous opulent buildings like the Gothic ANZ bank building on the corner of Elizabeth Street and the adjoining Stock Exchange. I also really enjoyed seeing the way the 1890s Rialto and Winfield buildings have been incorporated into the Intercontinental Hotel and Rialto Towers.

Rialto Building from Collins Street Rialto Building from Collins Street
Image: Nicole Davis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The tour ended another hour later with some of Melbourne's famous arcades: the Block Arcade from the 1890s; Howey Place, next to which the famous Cole's Book Arcade was once located; and the controversial Capitol Arcade, developed in the 1960s.

As you can see the tour was densely packed and I could write reams on more of the great stories that our guide had to impart. He was amazingly knowledgeable, gave fabulous detailed accounts, and brought to life Melbourne's history for me. Most of all, he answered my constant questions with good grace and love of his subject. As a student of urban history, it was a fascinating insight and a great opportunity to talk with someone who had an in-depth knowledge of these places. If you want to get to know Melbourne, whether you're a visitor or a local, I highly recommend going on one of these walking tours.

Links:

You can see more images of the tour and find out how to book on the Immigration Museum website.

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

Categories