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Old Museum Building conservation management plan

Architect G H M Addison’s winning entry in the 1888 design competition for a new Exhibition Building. It is similar to the building as it was built, but without the concert hall wing. Other points of difference include the pointed arches, the large porte-cochère, and generally more lavish detail. The original ink and gouache drawing is in the collection of the Queensland Art Gallery.

The Queensland Department of Public Works commis­sioned me to update the 1989 Old Museum Building conser­vation study to take account of the conservation work that had been completed, and to guide further works. The new Old Mus­eum Building con­ser­vation management plan, with a foreword by the Minister for Public Works, was published by the depart­ment in 2000.

The Old Museum Building was originally built for the National Agricultural Association as an exhibition hall and opened in 1892. The design also included a concert hall​—​the best concert venue in Brisbane until the City Hall was built. Unfortunately, the construction coincided with the severe depression of the early 1890s, and the association could not afford to service their loans. The government stepped in and bought the building, and converted the exhibition hall to house the Queensland Museum. After the City Hall was opened in 1930, the concert hall was con­verted to accommodate the Queens­land Art Gallery which remained there until 1974.

This early twentieth century photograph shows the garden in front of the museum entrance. Much of the pattern of this garden survives, and is a rare example of its style. The conservation management plan incorporated the findings of a separate study of the gardens by Catherine Brouwer.

The plan showed the way for continued adaptation of the build­ing, keeping it useful and maintaining its social connection with the Brisbane community.

Many different cultural and performance groups use the build­ing. Representatives of these groups read a final draft of the plan, and I joined them for a workshop to discuss and refine the plan.

Generations of Queenslanders have fond memories of visits to the museum before the collection was moved to South Brisbane in 1987.

The 82 page document is available for download here. Each chap­ter is in a separate PDF file with endnotes.

Introduction and front matter 647 KB    
The history of the building 1,942 KB    
The fabric 413 KB    
What is important about the Old Museum 1,192 KB    
Conservation 730 KB    
Appendix 527 KB    

project details

Client: Queensland Department of Public Works

Collaborators: Catherine Brouwer (landscape architect)

Year: 1999-2000

Related: SLQ catalog record, Heritage register entry, Old Museum website


Project types
Award winning
Government building
Industrial site
Timber building

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