- Royal Exhibition Building
Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
State Party = AUS
Type = Cultural
Criteria = ii
ID = 1131
Region = Asia-Pacific
Year = 2004
Session = 28th
Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1131
The Royal Exhibition Building is located in
Melbourne, Australia. It is located in the Carlton Gardens, at the north-eastern edge of the central business district. It was the first building in Australia to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. It sits adjacent to the Melbourne Museum; and is the largest item in Museum Victoria's collection.
It was designed by the
architectJoseph Reed (who also designed the Melbourne Town Halland the State Library of Victoria). It was completed in 1880, ready for the Melbourne International Exhibition. The building consisted of a Great Hall of over 12,000 square metres and many temporary annexes. The landmark dome is believed to be inspired by the Florence Cathedral.
The Melbourne Centennial Exhibition was held at the Exhibition Building in 1888 to celebrate a century of European settlement in Australia.
The most significant event to occur in the Exhibition Building was the opening of the first Parliament of Australia on 9 May 1901, following the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January. After the official opening, the federal government moved to the Victorian State Parliament House, while the Victorian government moved to the Exhibition Building for the next 26 years.
The period after this time saw the building used for many purposes.It was a main venue for the
1956 Summer Olympics, hosting the basketball, weightlifting and wresting competitions. [ [http://www.iamfa.org/PapyrusWinter04.pdf?L1=2&L2=0&L3=0&L4=0&L5=0 The Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne] ] As it decayed, it became known derogatively by locals as the "The White Elephant" in the 1940s [" [http://museumvictoria.com.au/DiscoveryCentre/Infosheets/Royal-Exhibition-Building/ The Royal Exhibition Building] " museumvictoria.com.au. URL accessed on 6 November 2007.] and by the 1950s, ironically, like many buildings in Melbourne of that time it was earmarked for replacement by office blocks. [" [http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/03/14/1079199092582.html?from=storyrhs Who will save Melbourne from the wrecker's ball?] " theage.com.au 15 March 2004. URL accessed on 5 September 2006.] The wing of the building which once housed Melbourne's aquarium burnt down in 1953. The grand ballroom was demolished in 1979, leaving the main structure in place along with annexes constructed in the 1960s and 1970s. [museumvictoria.com.au/pages/845/REBNom_3.pdf]
Following the demolition of the grand ballroom there was a public outcry which prevented the main building also from being demolished.
In 1984 when Queen Elizabeth II visited Victoria she granted the prefix title 'Royal' to the Exhibition Building. This sparked a restoration of the interiors of the building in late 1985, [" [http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/10/20/1034561388451.html Global status for our greatest building] " theage.com.au 21 October 2002. URL accessed on 5 September 2006.] and the construction of a mirror glass annexe (which was later demolished).
In 1996 the then Premier of Victoria,
Jeff Kennett, proposed the location and construction of Melbourne's State Museum on the adjacent site. Temporary annexes built in the 1960s were removed and in 1997 and 1998, the exterior of the building was progressively restored.
The location of the State Museum close to the Exhibition Building site was strongly opposed by the Victorian State Labor Party, the
Melbourne City Counciland the local community. It was as a result of the community campaign opposing the museum development that John Brumby, then State opposition leader, with the support of the Melbourne City Council, proposed the nomination of the Royal Exhibition Buildings for world heritage listing. The world heritage nomination did not progress until the election of the Victorian State Labor Party as the new government in 1999.
In 2004, the Royal Exhibition Building along with the surrounding Carlton Gardens was granted listing as a
World Heritage Site, the first building in Australia to be granted this status. The heritage listing says that "The Royal Exhibition Building is the only major extant nineteenth century exhibition building in Australia. It is one of the few major nineteenth century exhibition buildings to survive worldwide."
This building is still in use as an exhibition centre on a regular basis, for events such as the
Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. It is mostly used for private tours attached to the nearby Melbourne Museum.
However, it is no longer Melbourne's largest or busiest exhibition centre. The modern equivalent of the Exhibition Building is the
Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, located in Southbank to the south of the central city area. The Royal Exhibition Building is also used as an exam hall for the University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne High School and Mac.Robertson Girls' High School
Garden Palace- Sydney's exhibition building.
* [http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/world/royal-exhibition/index.html World heritage listing for the Royal Exhibition Building]
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