Large 1870s exhibition building.

Royal Exhibition Building and Protection Project

Museums Victoria looks forward to sharing the next chapter of the Royal Exhibition Building’s journey with you.

The Royal Exhibition Building is Melbourne’s only UNESCO World Heritage site and is of immense historical significance to Australia.

Built as Australia's portal to the world, the Royal Exhibition Building was completed in 1880 to host the Melbourne International Exhibition. In 1901 the Royal Exhibition Building hosted the opening of Australia’s Federal Parliament. In 1919, when the 'Spanish' influenza pandemic swept the world, the building was transformed into a temporary hospital, treating more than 4,000 people in 6 months.

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens forms one of the world’s rare surviving nineteenth century exhibition precincts. Designed by Joseph Reed, the soaring dome of the Royal Exhibition Building is based on Brunelleschi’s Duomo in Florence and is emblematic of the sense of confidence of the young colony of Victoria.

The story of the Royal Exhibition Building continues into the 21st Century as an Australian global icon. Home to Melbourne's major cultural, community and musical events, it is also a key contributor to the economy of the state as a drawcard for local and international tourism, conferences and trade shows. Most recently, the building has been used to service the community as a COVID-19 vaccination hub.

Opportunities for support

Internal dome plasterwork and decorative scheme: $3.7 million
The grandeur and ornamentation of the Royal Exhibition Building is unparalleled. This World Heritage treasure is capped by a soaring dome based on the design of Brunelleschi’s Duomo in Florence. Restoration will return the intricate plasterwork and imposing decorative scheme featured beneath the Royal Exhibition Building’s dome to their former splendour.

Redevelopment of the Southern Forecourt: $1.3 million
Reimagining the grand vision of 1880 for the building’s entrance that will return the Southern Forecourt to a wonderful gathering and event space.

This Southern Forecourt will provide a new and unique environment for visitors to enjoy and engage with the building, creating another destination for shared experience.

Flagpole replacement: $50,000 each
Honouring the site where the Australian flag was flown for the very first time.

A collective investment of $200,000 will ensure repair of the final four flagpoles and enable flags to be flown (and lowered to half-mast) across the building for all State significant events, civic and ceremonial celebrations for the first time in many years.

Pressed cement orbs: $3,500 each
These are the decorative jewels which adorn the building and provide a direct personal connection to the building’s grand architecture.

Reinstating 226 of these decorative architectural features and bringing back the beauty of the original ornamentation will require a total investment of $791,000.

East and West Façade redevelopment: $5.9 million
These are the two most public faces of the building and their restoration will endure for over 30 years. A new external lighting system is proposed, akin to that recently added to Flinders Street Station, to highlight the grand building at night and enable a multitude of colour schemes for different civic celebrations

Expanded basement exhibition and events space - New Pavilion Café dining and hospitality precinct: $12.1 million
A major new addition to the building, introducing a café and events space facing the Carlton Gardens, to create a bustling new public offering open throughout the week all year round.

Donate and support

Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

If you would like to learn more about our projects, please contact the Museums Victoria Development Team on +61 (0) 435 174 216 or [email protected].

You can also support the Royal Exhibition Building by joining the Director’s Circle and enjoy unparalleled access to your special interest while playing an integral role in its future success.

Unless otherwise agreed, Museums Victoria reserves the right to determine at its sole discretion the initiatives to be delivered and how any donated funds are to be applied.

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