Royal Exhibition Building Collection




The Royal Exhibition Collection contains over 6,000 objects and reflects all aspects of the building's history. The collection dates from 1879 to the present day and includes objects, photographs, artworks, oral histories and archival material. Museum Victoria continues to actively collect both contemporary and historic material related to the building and its occupants.

Built in 1879 the Exhibition Building in Melbourne was designed by Joseph Reed and was erected in less than 18 months. Constructed for the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, the building and exhibition represent the prosperity and aspirations of Melbourne in the mid 19th century, basking in the wealth of the world's richest gold rush. When it was built the Exhibition Building was the largest building in Australia, and the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition attracted entries from 33 countries and over a million visitors. The crowds increased for the 1888 Centennial International Exhibition with over two million visitors attending the exhibition. The collection includes objects displayed at these two exhibitions, certificates and medals awarded to exhibitors and commissioners, catalogues from the exhibitions, and souvenirs purchased by visitors during the exhibitions. 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 of the Exhibition Building. The interior of the building has now been restored to replicate the decorative scheme used for that event. Several artworks depicting this occasion including Charles Nutall's 'The Opening, Commonwealth Parliament' form part of the collection, as do invitations to the various festivities which surrounded this event. Objects, documents and images in the collection showcase the changing uses of the building: it served as a temporary hospital for Spanish Flu sufferers in 1919; housed the first Australian War Museum from 1921-1925; from 1941 to 1945 it was used as the RAAF No 1 Technical Training School; the grounds north of the great hall were used to house a migrant reception centre from 1949 to 1962; and it was used as a venue for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Between these events the building has continued to be used for trade fairs, motor shows, balls, meetings, flower shows, examinations and rock concerts. In 1980, Princess Alexandra, cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, bestowed Royal title on the Exhibition Building. In 2004 the Royal Exhibition Building was inscribed onto the World Heritage List as the only surviving 19th century 'Palace of Industry' located in its original landscape setting, which is still used for exhibitions and events. The collection also contains photographs and other pictorial representations of the building from the 1880s to the present day.

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1879-2010; 8 Hours Day Celebrations; Advertising; Agricultural Societies; Aquariums; Architecture; Art; Art Exhibitions; Art Fairs; Artworks; Assemblies; Australian Bicentenary, 1788-1988; Australian Centenary of Federation, 2001; Australian Federal Parliament Opening Ceremony, 1901; Australian Federation, 1901; Australian Military Forces; Boer War, 1899-1902; Building & Construction; Celebrations; Civic mementoes; Commemorations; Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Melbourne, 1981; Community Organisations; Conferences & Conventions; Economic Depression, 1890s; Entertainment; Exhibitions; Exhibitions: Melbourne International Centenary Exhibition, 1980; Exhibitions: Melbourne International Centennial, 1888-1889; Exhibitions: Melbourne International, 1880-1881; Exhibitions: Melbourne, All Australian Victorian Centenary, 1934; Flower & Garden Shows; Holiday & Travel Shows; Home Shows; Influenza Epidemic, 1919; International Motor Show; Keepsakes; Medal Presentations; Migrant Reception Centres; Motor Cycle Shows; Motor Shows; Museum History; National Trust; Olympic Games: Melbourne, 1956; Politics; Popular culture; Postcards; Public Ceremonies; Public Gardens; Public Health; Royal Exhibition Building; Royal Exhibition Building Trustees; Royal Visits; Souvenirs; Sport; Tobacco Industry; Trade Exhibitions; Trade Fairs; Trade Shows; Victoria Centenary, 1934-1935; Women's Issues; World Fairs; World Heritage; World War I, 1914-1918; World War II, 1939-1945

Coverage Spatial

Victoria, Australia

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2012-05-30 23:42

2011-03-31 18:32