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and west annexes of the exhibition building were removed in the 1960s and 1970s (one of the halls being re- constructed off-site as a tram museum). The major recent change has been the building of the new Melbourne Museum in the north garden.

The uses of the building have been diverse since it was built. Until 1901 it was used for exhibitions. It then became part of the parliament until 1919 when it was used a fever hospital during the First World War. Between then and 1975 it served as stores and offices, and as troop accommodation and as a ballroom. The new direction for the building started in 1975 when was officially listed on the Register of the National Estate.

The adjective Royal was added to the building in 1980.

Management regime Legal provision:

Australia has a three-tier system of legislation: Commonwealth (national), State (provincial) and local levels. In the State of Victoria, heritage is primarily managed at State level through Heritage Victoria which is governed by the Heritage Council of Victoria, appointed by the State Government.

The Royal Exhibition and Carlton Gardens are listed on the Commonwealth’ Government’s Register of the National Estate. This does not provide direct legal controls, but authorities must alert the Australian Heritage Commission to actions that might significantly affect the values of places on the Register. The buildings and gardens are also listed in the Victorian Heritage Register, which means that designated sites need permission from Heritage Victoria for any works undertaken to them.

The City of Melbourne has responsibility for Heritage Overlay Zones, which form a key part of the development control planning process. Heritage Overlay Zones govern issues such as bulk and mass of new development, height, the retention of fabric, colours and preferred building materials.

The nominated site thus has two overlapping levels of heritage legislation. If the site were inscribed the Commonwealth government would ‘endorse’ the Heritage Overlay Zones as the buffer for the site – but how this would be done is not clear, nor precisely how the scope of the setting of the World Heritage site would be defined and whether this would coincides with the Heritage Overlay Zone.

The nomination indicates that no formal buffer zone is proposed as the Heritage Overlay Zone protection would be sufficient. However the site is bordered to the south by the central business district within which there are few heritage listed buildings. Also the axial arrangement from the front of the building south to the Houses of Parliament needs defining and reinforcing. There would seem to be a need for better protection than currently offered by the Heritage Overlay Zone.

Management structure:

The Museums Board Victoria has overall responsibility for










management delegated to the Melbourne Museum Division and specifically to the Director.

The City of Melbourne has been appointed as the Committee of Management for the Carlton Gardens. The Parks and Recreation Group of the City of Melbourne undertakes the planning management roles directly. Day to day maintenance is carried out by private contractors.


Day to day management operations for the Royal Exhibition Building is financed from its commercial revenue stream. The exhibition building used as an exhibition venue generates sufficient income to ensure its financial stability. Museum Victoria provides a budget for site interpretation. Funds for capital works are provided by the Sate Government of Victoria.

The City of Melbourne funds management, maintenance and capital works for the Carlton Gardens.

Staff on the site as a whole (including the new museum) has expertise in conservation practices, as well as in research and curatorial areas. Specialist architectural conservation advice is sought from consultants for the Royal Exhibition Building, and from landscape architects, arboriculturalists, conservators and conservation managers for the Carlton Gardens.

Justification by the State Party (summary)

The Royal Exhibition Building has outstanding universal value for the following qualities:

Rare surviving manifestation exhibition phenomena;




The only surviving Great Hall of the ‘Palace of

Industry’, exhibitions;






  • The buildings and gardens are broadly representative of the themes and architectural characteristics shared by other structures and sites;

  • The buildings and gardens are unique in having maintained authenticity of form and function;

  • The exhibitions were a shop front for the industrial revolution which shaped some of the greatest global social and economic transformations.


An ICOMOS expert mission visited the site in September 2003.

Conservation Conservation history:

The Royal Exhibition Building underwent a major restoration project in 1995 during which the decorated interior finishes were restored to their 1901 form. Prior to that in the 1980s, a programme was undertaken to bring services up to date. Further conservation works were

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