Summary

View of the main Exhibition Building from the south-west near Rathdowne Street at the time of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition held at the Exhibition Buildings, between 1 October 1880 and 30 April 1881.

Although the Exhibition Building itself had only been recently constructed, the foundation stone being laid in February 1879, the gardens themselves include more mature plants that were part of the original garden layout established by Edward LaTrobe Bateman in the mid 1850s. Nonetheless, the garden beds immediately south of the Exhibition Building were relaid for the 1880 Exhibition, and show relatively new planting.

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

View of the Exhibition Building looking north-east from Rathdowne Street taken at the time of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. The Western Machinery Annexe is visible on the far left of image, while the Hochgürtel Fountain, or Exhibition Fountain, is visible on the far right of image.

Physical Description

Albumen photographic print 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.

Significance

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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