Explore the Weekend's Heritage Highlights

In 1974, after years of campaigning by heritage and conservation activists, the Victorian Historic Buildings Register was formalised by the Victorian government. This year marks the 50th anniversary of that legislation, known today as the Victorian Heritage Register.

For heritage lovers, The Weekend boasts so many options, you may not know quite where to start. Here’s our pick…

From Ned Kelly’s armour to a LEGO model of the Library, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the State Library of Victoria, established in 1854 and today comprising 23 architecturally-designed buildings. You can wander through the library or book a spot on a Heritage Architecture tour with Architectus to really get beneath the surface of this important space.

Take a guided tour through one of Melbourne’s most iconic buildings, the Melbourne Town Hall and view the reception rooms, stand on the Portico balcony where The Beatles waved to the crowd below, and see the richly carved Town Hall grand organ. You can also tour the Town Hall Art and Heritage Collection Store, (note, an additional booking is required), home to the City of Melbourne’s eclectic collection of more than 13,000 artworks and objects.

Nearby, the 1924 Capitol Theatre (also called Capitol House), described as ‘the best cinema that was ever built or is ever likely to be built,’ is an important example of Marion Mahoney Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin’s commercial architectural work, and a significant cultural building in Melbourne’s arts spine.

Shaping Remembrance: Exploring Alternative Visions for the Shrine invites you to consider how art and architecture can shape remembrance. Ninety years since the official opening of Melbourne’s grand Shrine of Remembrance, hear from architecture experts and tour the building. To explore more of the Melbourne Arts Precinct heritage, check out Lovell Chen’s Stroll on the South Side.

La Trobe’s Cottage is set in the gardens surrounding the Shrine and is the original home of Victoria’s first Lt. Governor. Take a short tour of one of Melbourne’s oldest buildings and learn more about the building itself and its inhabitants.

Como House and Gardens in South Yarra is an intriguing mix of Australian Regency and classic Italianate architecture, offering a glimpse into the privileged lifestyle of its former owners, the Armytage family, who were famous amongst Melbourne high society for their elegant dances, dinners and receptions.

Brighton Council Chambers (aka Brighton Municipal Offices), is a must-do for mid-Century aficionados. Echoing the famous design of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the iconic curved Brighton Chambers was officially opened in 1961 and with its circular foyer, council chamber and two circular meeting rooms is a striking example of the architecture of its era.

Almost completely out of sight on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, discover the hidden world that is Jack’s Magazine, with a look inside this former explosives store built into an escarpment, a largely untouched former industrial facility managed by Working Heritage.

Pentridge Piazza is part of the dramatically transformed former Pentridge Prison in Coburg, which is now a residential and retail precinct. Take a walking tour of the new Central Piazza which incorporates rescued materials from the original site into the new one, ensuring the prolific stories hosted by the site are not lost or forgotten, while bringing a new lease of life to the heritage-listed building and grounds.

It might sound a little macabre, but the Former Williamstown Morgue is an intriguing spot to take a look. Significant both for its architecture and the essential (if morbid) role it played for the local community, you’ll be fascinated by this glimpse into our past.

Enjoy stepping back into Melbourne’s history!

The Victorian Heritage Register now includes approximately 2,400 places and objects that are significant to the history and development of Victoria. It protects a variety of heritage, not just historic buildings. Heritage can be buildings, objects, collections, archaeological remains, gardens, shipwrecks and more.

To celebrate this milestone, Open House Melbourne and the Heritage Council of Victoria presented Open FRAME: capturing 50 years of heritage, a photography competition for all Victorians to capture their favourite building or object on the Victorian Heritage Register.

The judging panel of John Gollings, Maddison Miller and Michael Cook selected the winners which you can view below.

Open FRAME winners

Heritage Highlights

A large, very old reading room that is round in shape. The room is four stories high, and along the walls are balconies and shelves of old books. There are dark timber chairs and desks arranged around the room, and old green lamps sitting on the desks. Around the top of the room are six circular windows, the ceiling is not in view. There are no people in the room.
Open Access
State Library Victoria

Saturday 27 July, Sunday 28 July

Inside larger heritage building with columns and decorative ceilings
Building Tour
State Library Victoria Heritage Architecture

Saturday 27 July, Sunday 28 July

Colour photograph of the Melbourne Town Hall from Swanston Street at night. On the corner of two city streets the building, with its French Renaissance style clock tower prominently positioned, is brightly lit in the evening sky.
Building Tour
Melbourne Town Hall

Saturday 27 July, Sunday 28 July

Selection of framed colour photographs on display as part of the picture racks in the City of Melbourne's Art and Heritage Collection store. Photographs featured are by various artists and include streetscapes, cityscapes and portraits.
Building Tour
Art and Heritage Collection Store: Melbourne Town Hall

Saturday 27 July, Sunday 28 July

An early 20th century black and white photograph of the interior of a theatre with ornate curtains concealing the screen.
Building Tour, Open Access
The Capitol, RMIT

Sunday 28 July

The Shrine of Remembrance at sunset. This image is collaged with different designs of what the Shrine could have been. The image on the top right features a tall monument light up in the dark. The bottom right is a large winged statue with a rectangular building behind it. The top left design is a large monument with a round amphitheatre in front of it. The design on the bottom left is a curved monument with arches.
Open Access, Building Tour, Exhibition, Live Performance
Shaping Remembrance: Exploring Alternative Visions for the Shrine

Sunday 28 July

A brown roof with posts supporting it. There are green plants against the building a large tree and blue sky.
Open Access, Building Tour
La Trobe's Cottage

Sunday 28 July

Photograph of Como House Heritage kitchens, showing a arched door way and shelving with various kitchen items.
Open Access
Como House and Gardens

Saturday 27 July

Colour photograph of a circular shaped, red brick, modernist building with blue sky in the background.
Open Access
Brighton Council Chambers

Saturday 27 July, Sunday 28 July

Bluestone tunnel entry sits embedded into grassy blast mound.
Open Access
Jack's Magazine

Saturday 27 July

View over looking Pentridge main piazza public space.
Site Tour
Pentridge Piazza

Saturday 27 July

Colour photograph of the bluestone arched entrance to a single-storey, Georgian-style building.
Open Access
Former Williamstown Morgue

Sunday 28 July