In most great cities there is one building that epitomises the spirit of key moments in its history. In Melbourne, it is undoubtedly the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. Today the site is recognised by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as being a rare intact reminder of the 19th century international exhibitions movement, which fostered a global exchange of products and ideas.
World Heritage site
On 1 July 2004, the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens became both the first Victorian place and the first built heritage site in Australia to be added to the World Heritage List. The site qualified for the World Heritage list under cultural criterion (ii) of the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention which lists sites that exhibit ‘an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design’. You can read the full World Heritage inscription on the UNESCO website.
National Heritage site
On 20 July 2004, the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens was also added to Australia’s National Heritage list which recognises and protects our most valued natural, Indigenous and historic heritage sites. Each place in the List is assessed by the Australian Heritage Council as having national heritage values that can be protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. In this way, we can sustain our heritage for future generations.
The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens qualify for the National Heritage list under criteria A, B, D, E and F with one of the notable reasons for the site’s listing being its use as the venue for the opening of the first Australian Federal Parliament on 9 May 1901. You can find more details about the site’s National Heritage listing inscription on the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s website.
The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens are managed on a day-to-day basis by Museums Victoria and the City of Melbourne respectively. In June 2004, a Memorandum of Understanding was established between the Museums Board of Victoria and the City of Melbourne to ensure a coordinated approach to the development, management, and protection of the entire Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens site.
Following the site’s World Heritage listing a World Heritage Steering Committee was established to prepare the Management Plan for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens and provide oversight and guidance in its implementation. Members of the committee are appointed by the Minister for Planning and Heritage Victoria's Executive Director chairs the committee. You can find out more about the committee and contact them via the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens World Heritage Steering Committee page at Heritage Victoria.