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Royal Exhibition Building Collection
Image: Watercolour - The Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Framed, 1880
Source: Museum Victoria
The Royal Exhibition Building is a product of the optimism, enthusiasm and energy of the people of Melbourne in the late 19th century. In 1879, when the foundation stone was laid, Melbourne was an extremely prosperous city, basking in the wealth from the richest gold rush in the world. The future seemed unlimited, and Victorians wanted to publicise their achievements in an international exhibition.
The building was designed by Joseph Reed and erected in less than 18 months. The first exhibition opened on 1 October 1880. The excited crowd included many who had immigrated during the 1850's gold rush. They had seen Melbourne change from a scatter of wooden houses to a marvellous modern city. The new Exhibition Building, the largest building in Australia, was a symbol of their confidence in the future. The 1880-81 International Exhibition attracted entries from 33 countries and over a million visitors.
The boom times continued, and in 1888 at the Centennial International Exhibition, annexes full of displays covered the gardens north to Carlton Street, and people made 2 million visits.
The Opening of the First Federal Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia on 9 May 1901 saw 12,000 people attend the ceremony in the Great Hall. The restored interior replicates the decorative scheme designed for that event.
In 1919, the building was used as a temporary hospital for Spanish Flu sufferers; from 1921-1925 the first Australian War Museum was housed there (the precursor to the Australian War Memorial); between 1941 and 1945 the building was requisitioned by the RAAF No 1 Technical Training School; from 1949-1962 a migrant reception centre was housed in the grounds north of the great hall; and in 1956 weight liftingting, basketball and wrestling competitions were held as part of the Melbourne Olympics. Between these events the building has continued to be used for trade fairs, motor shows, balls, meetings, flower shows, examinations and rock concerts.
To mark its centenary in 1980, Princess Alexandra, cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, bestowed Royal title on the Exhibition Building. Its significance as the only surviving 19th century 'Palace of Industry' located in its original landscape setting, still used for events, saw the Royal Exhibition Building listed on the World Heritage Register in July 2004.
The Royal Exhibition Collection of well over 5,000 objects reflects all aspects of the building's history: objects displayed at the two great International Exhibitions; souvenirs; certificates and medals awarded to exhibitors and commissioners; invitations to concerts, balls and the opening of parliament: catalogues to the International Exhibition and museum displays. The collection also contains photographs of the building from the 1880s to the present day, and other pictorial reproductions including watercolours, postcards and lithographic prints.
Items per page: 10 50 (showing 81 - 90) 1825 items
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Framed original print, with hand-written annotations, titled 'The Melbourne International Exhibition 1880/ Plan of Gardens'. The print is framed in a maple eye wooden frame with a green ...Images: 0
Double-sided page from The Australasian Sketcher, Saturday, 24 July 1880, pp.163-64, published by Wilson & McKinnon, Melbourne. Page 163 includes a small article describing the arriva ...Images: 1
Invitation to the Opening of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia on 9 May 1901 sent to Mr George Frederick Michael and Lady, Secretary of the Shire of Woorayl, by His Majest ...Images: 1
Black & white postcard of the 'Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne, Australia', showing the southern facade of the building from the south-west, circa 1904. The postcard is in issued condit ...Images: 2
Hand-coloured 'Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne', postcard from the Philco Series, no.1040A, published by the Philco Publishing Company, Holborn Place, London. The postcard has been issu ...Images: 2
Official Guidebook for the 1954 International Motor Show, which was held at the Royal Exhibition Building from 1-10 April 1954. The guidebook was sold for 1/6.Images: 3
Official Guidebook for the 1950 International Motor Show, which was held at the Royal Exhibition Building from 27 April to 6 May 1950. The guidebook was sold for 1/-d.Images: 3
Official Guidebook for the 1949 International Motor Show, which was held at the Royal Exhibition Building from 12-21 May 1949. The guidebook was sold for 1/-d.Images: 3
This is a coloured souvenir card of the Exhibition Building showing the southern facade with trees and flowers in the foreground, circa 1956. The card, which was sponsored by Colgate-Pa ...From: Melbourne, Australia Images: 3
This painting by Alice Chapman (1860-1929) was exhibited in the 1888-89 Centennial Exhibition in Melbourne. Two other paintings by the same artist were also exhibited then - `Fruit' an ...From: Melbourne, Australia Images: 2