Preparing for the Exhibition – Gilding the Dome

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Preparing for the Exhibition – Gilding the Dome


architecture, Brunelleschi, building, Carlton Gardens, centennial, Centennial International Exhibition, dome, exhibition, exhibition building, flagpole, Florence Cathedral, gilding, Great Hall, industry, international exhibition, Italian influence, Joseph Reed (c.1823-1890), Melbourne, painting, Royal Exhibition Building, Rundbogenstil style, semi-circular arches, showcase, Victoria, World Fair


In this article, an update is provided on repainting work being carried out at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne in the lead up to the 1888 Centennial International Exhibition. The most difficult task being undertaken as part of this redecoration, according to the author, was the gilding of the gold ball surmounting the dome. To complete this, painters had been swung 300 feet above ground level. The dome of the Royal Exhibition Building was modelled on Brunelleschi’s fifteenth-century design for the dome of the Florence Cathedral.
About the Royal Exhibition Building:
The Royal Exhibition Building was designed by architect Joseph Reed and completed in 1880. It hosted two major world fairs in the late nineteenth century: the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880 and the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition in 1888. The Great Hall was also used for the opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament of Australia in 1901. The round-arched architectural style of the design combines elements from Byzantine, Romanesque, Lombardic and Italian Renaissance buildings (‘Rundbogenstil’). Conservation and restoration of the building was completed in 1994, and the Royal Exhibition Building received National and World Heritage listing in 2004.




National Library of Australia


Illustrated Australian News


28 April 1888


Illustrated Australian News





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