Royal Exhibition Building
The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens represent the 19th century international exhibition movement, showcasing technological innovation and change that was made possible by the industrialisation.
The Exhibition Building was designed by the architect Joseph Reed. It was completed in 1880, in preparation for the Melbourne International Exhibition. The building consisted of a Great Hall of Industry of over 12,000 square metres and many temporary annexes in the Gardens.
The Melbourne Centennial Exhibition was held at the same Exhibition Building in 1888 to celebrate a century of European settlement in Australia.
Visit April 2011
I am sorry to the people of Melbourne, but this really is one of the least interesting WHS among the 401 that I have visited. In retrospect, back at my hotel room after a site visit of about 15 minutes, I think the worst thing is that no real effort is made to highlight the building or the gardens. All attention goes to the adjacent Melbourne Museum, currently the venue of a popular Tutanchamun exhibition.
The gardens are pitiful. The AB evaluation notes that they are at least of "considerable botanical significance for their collections of trees". It looked like a regular small city park to me, one you can see in every city around the world.
The complex isn't authentic. ICOMOS already had a lot of doubts about that, and suggested deferral of the nomination. The building of the main Industry Hall is probably the only original feature left. The northern gardens have been turned into a kids playground, several outbuildings have been demolished. And of course there's the Melbourne Museum, a 2000 addition right in the core zone. ICOMOS doubted it would have allowed its construction if the Exhibition Building already had been a WHS at that time.
It is unclear how and when to visit the interior. According to the official website, guided visits can be booked from the Melbourne Museum. I enquired at the ticket office, but no visit was scheduled for the day I was there. The reaction I got led me to believe that these guided visits are pretty rare. If someone has seen the interior (a lot of it has been taken away also), I would love to read a report on this webpage below.
The best thing of this visit was my decision to book a hotel in Carlton, close to the WHS. Carlton is Melbourne's Italian neighbourhood. Its Lyston Street has dozens of Italian restaurants, with heated terraces and great atmosphere. I had a wonderful spaghetti scoglio here the night before.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|Roel Sterken (Belgium):|
Contrary to what I read from other reviews, I must say I really enjoyed visiting the Royal Exhibition Hall. This was not in the least due to the fact that when I was visiting Melbourne, the exhibition hall was opened and in use for an annual art expo, so count me a very lucky man. The majestic grandeur of the building and colorful interior were emphasized by the tumult and spirit that the exposition brought along. The interior is beautifully restored to match the original schemes set in 1901 and a must see for anyone slightly interested in design and architecture. I stroled around for almost two hours, enjoying the feeling and awe that 19th century visitors of the Melbourne International Exhibitions must have shared with me. So if you're in the neighborhood, definitely check the calendar for opening times/exhibitions of the Royal Exhibition Building.
| Date posted: September 2012|
My visit last week revealed that winter has left the frontage of this site even less inspiring than usual with the fountain surrounded by mud and looking particularly uncared for. And it is unbelievable that there is still a car park at the front of the building.
| Date posted: July 2011|
I really enjoyed Melbourne. It gave me very good vibes. But can someone please explain to me why this site was inscribed? I do not get it. I cannot. I tried, but I failed miserably.
| Date posted: June 2011|
|Charilaos Lithoxopoulos (Australia / Greece):|
In a conversation with a person that was born after the The Royal Exhibition Buildings hosted the 1880 International Exhibition, I was told that much artefacts & large works of art were left on site when the exhibition was finished.
The "treasures" were so impressive that no one dared destroy or steal them. The person I spoke to, said that he found a way to visit the store rooms where they were kept in 1962. The most impresssive was the Chinese Lacquered timber house.
Many of the artefacts were beggining to show wear, as they have not been kept in appropriate conditions.
Some of the countries that exhibited, no longer exist. It is another good reason to salvage these items, and put them on show, piece by piece in the building itself.
The Royal Exhibition Buildings and gardens were surrounded with very ornate 2.44 metre high cast iron fences & gates, to keep people from the surrounding slum areas out at night. When inner Melbourne was no longer surrounded by desperately poor people the cast iron fences and gates were removed. I believe that was in 1962.
The remains of the very ornate cast iron fence is a heavy Basalt stone blocks that formed the base. Much deliberate damage was done to the stonework, but much of it can be restored.
I have for many years been trying to get people interested in restoring the stone work, but not many show an interest. I have been hoping that once the stone base has been restored, we can retrieve the cast iron fence and gates from a store room in the western suburbs of Melbourne and reinstall it. This would enhance the site greatly.
I would ask anyone with a few minutes of time, to email the Premier of the State of Victoria, and ask for the restoration to begin. There is strength in numbers.
| Date posted: January 2010|
|Charilaos Lithoxopoulos (Australia / Greece):|
What the picture does not show, next to this gem of 19th century hope, the stealing of park land and compromising the World Heritage building and its surrounds.
As some one wanted the land the museum was to be build on, they transferred the museum and carpark, a little Disneyland, a few metres away from the "Royal Exhibition Building". We hope the next generation will demolish this attack on the World Heritage building.
| Date posted: October 2009|
|John Booth (New Zealand):|
What a mixture of different architectural styles there are in this one building. A mixture of Romanesque, Renaissance and Byzantine.
I was told that from 1902 the building became Australia's Federal Parliament Building, until the new capital was built at Canberra. It is sometimes used for exhibitions again now.
The site includes the Carlton Gardens, which probably look great in spring, but in the winter they looked drab
It cost $5 to go in, and you can only see inside on a tour, at set times
The City Circle trams stop at the entrance to the garden
|Emilia Bautista King (U.S.A.):|
Finally, a WHS in Melbourne! Melbourne was home for 3 years and it will forever be a special place. I've walked through the Carlton Gardens many times and yes, the building is impressive. However, if you go to Melbourne, make sure you also go to the Queen Victoria Market (one of my favourite haunts). There are too many excellent restaurants to name! Oh, and also check out an Aussie Rules football match. It's a fun time!
| Date posted: February 2006|
|Kang Chong (Malaysia):|
This site is literally just a building. Visit Melbourne for its other non WHC sites. Melbourne is beautiful and the Exhibition is just one of its jewels. Do not forget, there is a good musuem just round the corner not too far away from the building.
| Date posted: October 2005|
when traveling in Australia,i went there.but then not realizing them important as only preserved architecture of international exhibition,i only thought what a big building standing.returning to japan,i looked over history of expo.i want to see them once more,having an opportunity.
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