The Royal Exhibition Building viewed through the exterior glass windows of the adjacent Melbourne Museum.
(A natural distortion.)
Given World Heritage status on 1 July 2004, the building (along with its surrounding Carlton Gardens) is the only world heritage-listed structure in Victoria, Australia.
The Royal Exhibition Building is apparently now the sole surviving Great Hall that once housed a 19th-century international exhibition and is still used for exhibitions.
Joseph Reed, of the firm Reed and Barnes, was the architect. Reed’s was a grand design, influenced by Rundbogenstil, a round-arched architectural style combining elements from Byzantine, Romanesque, Lombardic and Italian Renaissance buildings. The dome’s design was influenced by Brunelleschi’s 15th-century cathedral in Florence.
When it was built, the Great Hall was the largest building in Australia, and the highest building in Melbourne. It is brick, set on a bluestone base, and has long central naves and stunted transepts. There are four triumphal entrance porticoes, one on each side. The building is set in ceremonial gardens, which were designed by Reed and William Sangster. A wide avenue lined with plane trees links the front, southern entrance of the building with the city beyond. There was a viewing platform around the dome that allowed visitors to survey the progress of the booming city.
Interpretation panels on site explore the links between this Melbourne icon and Australia’s broader history, such as its role in hosting Australia’s first parliament, use as a hospital for Spanish Flu victims, and uses as an entertainment venue for cultural and leisure activities … ranging from gala balls to the 1956 Olympic Games to a performance by singer Dame Nellie Melba, … not to forget its significant service as an ongoing site for public exhibitions.