Royal Exhibition Building

Built in 1879 to host Victoria's first international exhibition, the Royal Exhibition Building (REB) has played a significant role in the political, cultural, economic and social history of Australia. The collection illustrates significant periods and uses of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. The best represented events are: 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition (MIE), the 1888 Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition (MCIE), and the opening of the first federal parliament of Australia in 1901. As well as objects exhibited at the two international exhibitions, the material relating to these events includes official and souvenir guidebooks, plans, photographs, invitations, tickets and souvenirs. The Museum also maintains a REB research archive of over 6000 folders containing copies of documents, newspaper articles, photographs, fliers, and so on.


The REB Collection provides tangible evidence of the history and use of Victoria's only world heritage listed site, the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the building's use from 1879 to the present. As the site of Melbourne's two International Exhibitions, material associated directly with these events has international value for researchers and museums.

The nucleus of the collection was formed in 1881 and 1888, when a number of exhibits displayed at the Melbourne International Exhibitions were gifted to the Museum. From the mid-1980s, objects relating to events that took place in the building or gardens were gradually collected. The REB's World Heritage Listing in 2004 led to the donation of significant objects, including a Trade Needle Display and a Circular & Vertical Saws Display both exhibited in 1888, and the John Twycross collection of items purchased at the two international exhibitions.