University Library

Wilson Hall; Centre and Symbol

New exhibition in the Baillieu

Wilson Hall: Centre and Symbol of the University is an exhibition that aims to highlight the place of Wilson Hall within the history and minds of the University of Melbourne community.

Since the 1880s Wilson Hall has been the ceremonial heart of the University, serving as a venue for significant University occasions, including commencements, examinations and graduations.

The exhibition traces the Hall’s past, starting from its conception and the subsequent construction of the original gothic building in 1878-1882 with funds donated by Sir Samuel Wilson.

This Hall quickly achieved iconic status and inspired artists to portray the buildings majestic visage, which dominated the campus grounds until it was destroyed by fire in 1952.

The exhibition records this tragedy and the ensuing community response to the Wilson Hall Appeal Fund, demonstrating the emotional attachment people had formed with the building. This led to strong opinions in thedebate of whether to restore the gothic ruins or re-build in modern style. It is here that the story of the “New Wilson Hall” begins and is subsequently explored through the narrative of its plan, construction and opening in 1956.


The exhibition draws upon the cultural collections of the University of Melbourne to provide a rich display of original architectural drawings, artworks, photographs and artefacts associated with the Hall.


Wilson Hall: Centre and Symbol of the University will be on display in the Leigh Scott Gallery, First Floor, Baillieu Library, from 15 March to 17 May 2010. For more information on this and other exhibitions, please refer to the Cultural Collections web site.

Contact: Emily Wubben & Jason Benjamin

Phone: 03 8344 0216

Contact: Jason Benjamin

Phone: 8344 0216

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