View of the tree ferns and other exhibits at the entrance of the Austrian Court in the central temporary annexe on the western side of the main avenue at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition held at the Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens, between 1 October 1880 and 30 April 1881.

In addition to the main permanent Exhibition Building, two permanent annexes as well as a large, central wooden temporary annexe were constructed to house the courts of various countries, or to include larger items from countries already represented in the main Building.

The main avenue was the central corridor that extended through the temporary annexes, leading northwards from the main permament Exhibition Buildings. Many of the major European countries had their courts situated on the western side of the main avenue, while the eastern side included exhibits from smaller countries and from other Australian colonies. The Austrian Court was at the far north-west corner of the temporary annexes, next to the Italian Court. The tree ferns, which are show in other photographs as a major feature of the entranceway into the Austrian Court, are now little more than withered fronds, suggesting that this photograph was taken some months after the October 1880 Exhibition opening and had since suffered from the heat of the Australian summer.

This is one of seventy-six photographs in a photograph album. Twenty-six photographs are of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. The photographs provide us with important visual evidence about the gardens around the Exhibition Building, and interior exhibits, including detailed images of the British Art Court, the ceramic and pottery exhibits in the Main Hall, and the appearance of the Avenue of Nations. The photographs are taken from glass plates and retain an excellent level of clarity and detail.

The album also contains a number of photographs in the 'Frith's Series', taken by British photographer Francis Frith, or members of his staff, of Gibraltar, and villages and towns in Britain.

Description of Content

International Exhibition, Melbourne, 1880. Interior view of the Exhibition Building showing the Austrian Court in an annexe to the Great Hall.

Physical Description

Albumen photograph mounted on buff-coloured card in red, cloth-covered, photograph album with decorative gold tooled border and gold tooled lettering in centre of front cover.


Part of photograph album containing a number of previously-unknown images documenting displays in the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition in the Exhibition Building.

The images give visual evidence about the products displayed, the display techniques used, and the interior and exterior of the Exhibition Building in 1880, and as such, are a valuable addition to the collection of graphic and other material relating to the history of the Royal Exhibition Building.

The Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880 was the first event held in the new Exhibition Building. It showcased recent inventions, art and design trends to the Melbourne public, and allowed Victorians to promote themselves and their industry and achievements to a national and international audience. The exhibition attracted over a million visitors, and ran for several months. Its long-term results were changes in Melburnian's domestic tastes, increased trading opportunities with Europe, and a growth in Australian pride and national feeling.

See 'Notes' for information about the names of possible photographers who may have taken these images.

The album also contains a number of photographs in the 'Frith's Series', taken by British photographer Francis Frith (1822 - 1898) or members of his staff, of Gibraltar, and villages and towns in Britain. There are also large-format images and are of value for the Museum's 'History of Photography' collection. It appears as if Frith did not visit Australia; and the photographs of the Exhibition do not bear any signature from his company.

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