History of the Royal Exhibition Building

Royal Exhibition Building in autumn 1996.
Image: Frank Coffa
Source: Museum Victoria

The Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens were completed in 1880 for Melbourne’s first international exhibition, a product of the optimism, enthusiasm and energy of the people of Melbourne in the late-19th century. Melbourne was a prosperous city, basking in the wealth from the richest gold rush in the world. How better to publicise the achievements and opportunities in the colony of Victoria than by hosting an international exhibition?

Today, the Royal Exhibition Building flourishes as one of the world's oldest exhibition pavilions, symbolising the great 19th-century international exhibition movement.

With its meticulously-restored opulent interior, expansive galleries and soaring dome, the Great Hall continues to offer a magnificent setting for trade shows, fairs and cultural and community events.

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens were inscribed on the World Heritage list on 1 July 2004, becoming the first building in Australia to achieve World Heritage listing. Today, the Royal Exhibition Building is a campus of Museum Victoria and the gardens are managed by the City of Melbourne.

Image Gallery

The Royal Exhibition Building under construction REB lithograph Postcard of the Royal Exhibition Building, 1890. Ground plan of the Royal Exhbition Building and surrounds, circa 1890s. Christmas postcard featuring the Royal Exhibition Building 1906 Melbourne Postcard featuring the Royal Exhibition Building. B&W postcard of REB Postcard 1912 REB