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.

Flags for Melbourne

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
25 November 2013
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Comments (2)

Two new flags are flying above the Royal Exhibition Building for On Top of the World: Flags for Melbourne. This public art project takes the NGV’s new exhibition, Melbourne Now, outside the gallery and to flagpoles across the City of Melbourne.

Melbourne Now flag John Warwicker's Melbourne Now flag flying above the Royal Exhibition Building.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The first of the flags was unfurled at Princes Hill on Tuesday in tribute to Ivor Evans, a Princes Hill student who was one of the five winners of a public competition to design the current Australian flag in 1901. This design was first flown at the Exhibition Building, which was the seat of the federal parliament at the time. On 3 September this year, the Royal Exhibition Building celebrated the 112th anniversary of flying the Australian flag, while the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander flags have been permanent fixtures since restoration of the flagpoles at either end of the building in August this year.

Each of the art project's sixteen flags were designed by local artists; those flying from the Royal Exhibition Building are by designer John Warwicker. In his artist’s statement, Mr Warwicker explains his design as an acknowledgement of the connection of Aboriginal people to the land, with the sun shared between the traditional owners of Australia and the immigrants who settled here, guided by the Southern Cross. Mr Warwicker sought permission from Harold Thomas to adapt his iconic Aboriginal flag design, and Mr Thomas is expected to visit for a viewing early in the new year.

John Warwicker's Melbourne Now flags John Warwicker's Melbourne Now flags flying above the Royal Exhibition Building, with the Australian Flag up above.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The flags will be in place until the Melbourne Now exhibition ends on 23 March 2014.

MV TOURS app

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
11 October 2013
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Excellent news for urban stickybeaks – we've just released the first three walking tours for the new MV TOURS app. If you’re the kind of person who likes to look up at the older bits of Melbourne, download these free, self-guided tours to your smartphone or device: Spotswood Industrial Heritage, Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, and Melbourne's Golden Mile. Think of the app as having a curator in your pocket, telling you stories on demand.

MV TOURS app This chap is on the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens walking tour, and learning about the Hochgurtel Fountain. This was a top spot for promenading in true 1880s society fashion.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I had a chat to one of those pocket curators, Dr Charlotte Smith, about her favourite parts of each route. She led the curatorial team developing the three tours and she's proof that there is always more to learn about the city, even if you’re already an expert historian. She’s particularly smitten with the strange corrugated iron annex hung from the side of the Gothic Rialto Building in Flinders Lane – urinals from the 1890s. "They’re just beautiful! I had no idea they were there," says Charlotte. "In those times they didn't have internal plumbing, but an office building still needed to provide a place for men to relieve themselves."

Melbourne's Golden Mile tour app Screenshot from Melbourne's Golden Mile app showing the Rialto Building urinals.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This urinals are a stop on the Melbourne's Golden Mile walking tour, which is based on Professor Graeme Davison's original booklet guide to accompany the path of circular metal disks embedded in city pavements. "We've neatened it a bit, but we follow the Golden Mile disks except where footpaths have been resurfaced and the disks are gone." This tour traces the boom era of Melbourne when the young city was flush with gold money and eager migrants.

Charlotte describes the Spotswood Industrial Heritage walking tour as "fabulous. I’ve really fallen in love with Spotswood." Among stories of manufacturing – fuses, agricultural equipment, glass bottles and more – is the sense of a place that evolved a distinctive character.

Says Charlotte, "we’ve tried to tell the story of it as a suburb with an old soul. There are stories about migration and changing manufacturing needs. The reason why the suburb is so important is its location – it is slightly lower than Melbourne, the river flows past it, and the first train line passed through Spotswood  to the main port at Williamstown." The walking tour also features items of notoriety produced in Spotswood: the glassworks made the suburb the 'Home of the Stubbie', while bushranger Ned Kelly's armour was fashioned from ploughs made by local firm Lennon and Company.

Stubbie Stubbie
Image: Laurie Richards
Source: Museum Victoria
 

All three tours are richly illustrated with hundreds of photographs and images drawn from MV's collections and other important sources, such as Wolfgang Sievers' photographs of industry and Mark Strizic’s beautiful photos of Melbourne in the 1950s. Charlotte particularly loves "a photograph we found for the Fuse Factory on Hall Street, of women working with their heads covered in scarves to protect themselves from flying bits and pieces." These and other images show how places have changed over the years, and in many cases, places that no longer exist.

While Charlotte expects that the Spotswood tour will be most used by local residents, international visitors are a big audience for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Garden tour, requiring certain concessions for those unfamiliar with the damage that possums can do. Those strange rings of metal around trunks of trees? Possum guards. (That grey furry mound in a tree hollow? Possum.)

The REB tour also includes exquisite drawings by builder David Mitchell of the Exhibition Building. "They’re at the University of Melbourne archive and not often seen. It's fascinating to look at one of the historical drawings then look up at the building and see how it has been realised." 

These three tours are the first instalment in what we hope will be a library of tours of Melbourne and regional places. Download one or all of the tours to your device through either the App Store or Google Play, and let us know what you think! 

Links

Walk through History support page

View all Museum Victoria apps

Immigration Museum: Melbourne's Golden Mile

MV Blog: A golden morning

Of wreckage, ships and dinosaur bits

Author
by Wayne
Publish date
26 July 2013
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I stare out to sea, a heaving blur of grey with white-capped breakers. Two thoughts occur to me – why didn’t I bring better wet weather gear, and how did this place get this odd name?

view of the ocean A lovely, clear Autumn day onsite at Eric the Red
Image: Wayne Gerdtz
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I am perched on a rock in a sheltered pocket of the beach and near some dune vegetation, the wind and rain intermittently reminding me of my inadequate clothing. Between myself and the sea is a small pile of grey rock which I have been progressively breaking open with my hammer and chisel, searching for fossils. A few metres beyond some of my fellow crew are swinging sledgehammers at a large section of this rock, working on extracting more material to be broken down in a search for more fossils.

Digging at Eric the Red site A group of volunteer diggers brave the elements onsite at the 'Eric the Red' fossil dig.
Image: Wayne Gerdtz
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We are sitting on a beach near the Cape Otway Lighthouse in late March, close to a location called “Eric the Red”. The grey rock we are processing were once sediments laid down in a streambed in a rift valley over 100 million years ago. Amongst the grey sediments are seams of fossilised plant material, and very occasionally, fossil bones of animals that lived and died nearby.

A rock onsite at Eric the Red A rock ready for breaking onsite at Eric the Red - who knows what fossils it might yeild? As it turns out - none.
Image: Wayne Gerdtz
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I am here as part of a Museum Victoria field trip to collect these fossils; amongst me is a wonderfully diverse group of people; Palaeontology students and academics, Museum staff, amateur enthusiasts and assorted interested folk. Together, our aim is to process this Cretaceous rock, search for fossil bone, record our finds and package them carefully for their voyage to the Museum Victoria Palaeontology collections, housed in the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens.

But...’Eric the Red’? What’s that name all about?

Weeks later, in the decidedly more dry and comfortable setting of the Museum, I decide to research why the site is called “Eric the Red”. It turns out that ‘Eric the Red’ was a vessel that was shipwrecked close to the shoreline of where we were digging; it ran aground in 1880 on a reef composed of the very same unit of rock we were excavating. The vessel was wrecked on the final leg of its otherwise uneventful voyage from New York to Melbourne, carrying a cargo of exhibits for the USA pavilion at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition – silverware, toys and pianos were among its diverse manifest. An interesting coincidence was that the ultimate destination for the Cargo of the Eric the Red was the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens in Melbourne – this is also the destination for the fossils we were extracting from the site, as Museum Victoria’s Palaeontology Collections and laboratory are in the basement of the Exhibition Building.

Royal Exhibition Building The Royal Exhibition Building - the intended destination of the cargo of Eric the Red, and in part, home to Museum Victoria's Geoscience collections
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
  

Thankfully the fate of our diggers and our precious cargo was less tragic than that of the crew and cargo of the ‘Eric the Red’; the wreck resulted in the loss of life of some crew. You can read a full account of the wreck of “Eric the Red” on Heritage Victoria’s website, and also a the reportage of the tragedy in “The Argus” via Trove.

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch

Author
by Patrick Greene
Publish date
7 December 2012
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Dr J. Patrick Greene is the CEO of Museum Victoria.

Yesterday we heard the sad news of the death of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, an enthusiastic supporter of Museum Victoria who always took a keen interest in the Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum and Scienceworks. As recently as September this year I received a letter on her behalf thanking me for sending her the Museum's magazine, Six Months, and commenting on the wide range of activities and projects described in it.

  Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Dame Elisabeth at the launch of Ancient Hampi at the Immigration Museum in 2008.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I first met Dame Elisabeth shortly after I took up my post as CEO of Museum Victoria in 2002. Harold Mitchell, then President of the Museums Board of Victoria, had written to inform her of my appointment. She asked to see me and we met in my office. It was immediately apparent that I was in the presence of a formidable but charming woman, who immediately put me at ease by saying how much she wanted to meet "another Greene". She revealed that her maiden name was Greene, and told me about her grandfather who had arrived from Ireland to work as an engineer for Victorian Railways. One of his many projects was the construction of the viaduct that carries the lines into Flinders Street Station. She gleefully told me that The Age had at the time described it as 'Greene's Folly' and her pride that more than a century later it was still performing its task so well – some 'folly!'

A notable occasion was the celebration of the museum's 150th anniversary in 2004 which took place in the Royal Exhibition Building with Dame Elisabeth as the guest of honour. Harold Mitchell discovered that her birthday was just a few days away and spontaneously asked the army trumpeter to play Happy Birthday, which all the guests joined in singing.

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Dame Elisabeth arriving at Harold Mitchell's farewell party in 2008.
Source: Museum Victoria

Dame Elisabeth was renowned for her warmth, her ability to remember names and of course her philanthropy. I spoke at a Philanthropy Australia event held in her honour about her contribution to Museum Victoria's activities and was amazed at the range of other causes that she supported. She was a very special person who made a considerable contribution to Victoria.

Help us plan our future

Author
by Melinda
Publish date
9 November 2012
Comments
Comments (5)

Melinda is the manager of MV's Governance and Planning Department.

Between our three museums—Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum— we exhibit world cultures, the science of our planet and universe, and Victoria's history and biodiversity. We take the show on the road and online, through the Discovery Program and our website.

Teacher with students Point Lonsdale Primary School students at the launch of the Surprises of the Cosmos exhibition at Scienceworks in 2011.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Woman in gallery Muthi Muthi Elder and artist Aunty Barb Egan with one of her artworks in her River Woman exhibition that was on show at Birrarung Gallery, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre earlier this year.
Image: James Henry
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We also look after the Royal Exhibition Building, and our 158-year-old scientific and cultural collections assist research into critical contemporary issues.

Dancers at Flinders St King Marong and members of the Safara Music School perform outside Flinders Street Station at the media launch of the West Africa exhibition at the Immigration Museum, 2010.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Planning for Museum Victoria's future is a mammoth and exciting task. We would like to hear what you value about Museum Victoria to help us steer the museum on behalf of all Victorians.

Please tell us: What do you like best about Museum Victoria? What do you think we could be doing better? What new things would you like to see us doing in the future?

You can leave your answers as a comment on this post, or if you'd prefer to reply privately, drop us a line via the Discovery Centre form

Huntsman on the Hill

Author
by Ben Thomas
Publish date
9 February 2012
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Ben is an assistant curator currently researching the collections of wealthy Melbourne wool merchant and art collector, John Twycross, for an upcoming book and online exhibition. On the weekends, he likes to wander through grand gardens and restore his 1920s State Savings Bank bungalow home.

Returning to Melbourne following an impromptu drive up Mount Macedon, I stopped at Forest Glade, one of the mountain's well-known private gardens that is open to the public. Barely had I gone a few steps through the garden's cast iron gates when I recognised a very familiar sculptural group. I rushed forward and had my suspicions confirmed.

Alfred Jacquemart’s Huntsman and Dogs Alfred Jacquemart’s Huntsman and Dogs, cast by Val d’Osne c.1879, in the Forest Glade private gardens on Mount Macedon. The cast was included in the company’s exhibits at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition.
Image: B. Thomas
Source: B. Thomas
 

Huntsman and Dogs, also known as Hunter and Hounds or by its French title, Le chaussuer et les chiens, was originally produced by the noted French sculptor, Henri Alfred Marie Jacquemart (1824-96), often known as Alfred Jacquemart, famed for his realistic representations of animal figures. He studied painting and sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and was a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon from 1847. His reputation as one of France's leading monumental sculptors was recognised in 1870 when he was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, the country's highest decoration.

Among his many monumental works, Jacquemart also produced a number of sculptures for commercial production, which were cast by the French foundries of Val d'Osne in 'imitation bronze'; a technique of casting in iron that was then coated with a thin surface of copper through electrolysis. Over time, the aging copper developed a green patina giving the appearance of a genuine bronze casting.

Detail of the base of statue Detail of the base of Huntsman and Dogs.
Image: B. Thomas
Source: B. Thomas
 

Val d'Osne exhibited Huntsman and Dogs at the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition and the following year at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition where it was mounted on a stone plinth at the front of the eastern forecourt to the Exhibition Buildings, at the edge of Nicholson Street. Val d'Osne was awarded a silver First Order of Merit for their castings at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition.

display of decorative castings in the eastern forecourt of the Exhibition Buildings during the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition Val d’Osne’s display of decorative castings in the eastern forecourt of the Exhibition Buildings during the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, with Jacquemart’s Huntsman and Dogs in the foreground of the Nicholson Street entrance.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

One cast of Huntsman and Dogs was purchased by the New South Wales government at the conclusion of the Melbourne Exhibition in 1881 for £180; almost $13,000 in today's terms. It was mounted in the gardens surrounding Sydney's exhibition building, the Garden Palace, but was damaged when the Palace burnt down in 1882. It was restored in September 2001 and is now situated in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens.

The Huntsman and Dogs in the Forest Glade gardens apparently remained installed at the Exhibition Building, but – much like its Sydney counterpart – was badly damaged when the Aquarium situated in the building’s eastern annexe was destroyed in a fire in 1953. Forest Glade’s present owners recount that the sculpture languished for a time at the back of a nursery, until being bought from a Richmond-based art auctioneer after the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. It now finds a fitting home, nestled amongst its garden bed of maples, greeting visitors to these wonderful gardens.

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

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