The Royal Exhibition Building's Dome Promenade

04 December, 2011

Royal Exhibition Building Promenade Deck, 1880.
Royal Exhibition Building Promenade Deck, 1880.
Source: Museum Victoria (Reproduced from Illustrated Australian News, 6 Nov, 1880.

Question: Is it possible to walk around the interior of the Royal Exhibition Building dome?

Answer: It is not possible to walk around the interior of the Royal Exhibition Building dome. Visitors to the REB can view the fabulous interior decoration, created by John Ross Anderson for the opening of the first Federal Parliament of Australia in 1901, from either below the dome or the mezzanine level.

In the 1880s visitors were able to access the exterior of the dome from a promenade deck. Located 30 metres above the gallery level, visitors to the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition paid 3 pence to climb 80 steep steps to access the promenade. There they could oversee the fast-paced development of Melbourne first-hand. One visitor described the experience:

At one's feet lies the city, with its well-planned and equally well-executed streets, its commendable buildings, its domes, its churches and its towers. Then the suburbs, green almost as the country beyond and the waters of Port Phillip... The sight was grand enough to be subduing... and as we filed down the apparently endless stairs it was to the tune of silence.

Access to the promenade was improved in 1888 when Waygood & Company installed a lift to the dome as a working exhibit at the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition. This improvement increased the popularity of the experience, so prices were increased to sixpence for adults and threepence for children.

Tours of the interior of this historic building are held most days at 2pm, subject to availability. Please call 13 11 02 to confirm.

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