Programme for the Opening Ceremony of the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition (MCIE) at the Exhibition Building on 1 August 1888. It was part of a bound volume of a collection of daily programmes for the MCIE. The MCIE followed on from the success of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, attracting over two million people, further showcasing the confidence and wealth of Melbourne and Victoria during the boom of the 1880s. The exhibition had a distinctively imperial focus and a greater emphasis on culture than in 1880. The program for the Opening Ceremony illustrates both these themes in the choice of officials and proceedings for the event as well as in the extensive use of music through-out the ceremony.

The Melbourne Correspondent for the Tasmanian News described the day of the Opening Ceremony, 'Melbourne to-day may be said to have been the scene of but one event the opening of the Centennial International Exhibition. All the life of the city seem [sic] gathered round that one act. Every eye seem to be turned to the gigantic building in the Carlton Gardens; every thought appeared to be directed to the proceedings being enacted there, and for which we have been nearly a year in active preparation' (Tasmanian News, 4 August 1888, p.2).

Physical Description

Printed programme on paper, quarto with fold across the centre. Text printed in gold.


This is an extremely rare item. Every day, a free programme of events was printed on site at the Exhibition Building for visitors to the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition (MCIE). The programme listed demonstrations and musical performances for the day, as well as notifications of coming events. No doubt many of these programmes were kept as souvenirs of one's visit to the MCIE, however very few survive. This near complete set is therefore invaluable. It is a rich research resource, providing insight into the scope of events held during the run of the exhibition; events organised by the commission to generate revenue and visitation. For music researchers, it provides a fascinating and important insight into choral and symphonic performances, the like of which had never been seen in Melbourne. It records the types of pieces played, many of which were new to colonial ears.

More Information