Old Treasury Building, Melbourne

Old Treasury Building, Melbourne
Old Treasury Building
Established2010 (built in 1862)
LocationMelbourne, Australia

The Old Treasury Building on Spring Street in Melbourne, was once home to the Treasury Department of the Government of Victoria, but is now a museum of Melbourne history, known as the Old Treasury Building.


Main facade of the Old Treasury Building, original drawing by JJ Clark

The Old Treasury Building was constructed between 1858–62,[1] and is considered one of Australia's finest Renaissance Revival buildings, constructed in palazzo form and built from wealth accumulated during the Victorian Gold Rush to house the state gold vaults.

The building was designed by young juvenile architect J. J. Clark[2] at just 19 years of age. The oldest surviving designs for the building date back to 1857, and many of JJ Clark's drafts are on display throughout the building. Clark later went on to design the Brisbane Treasury in Queensland, considered to be another fine example in a classical style.

Miles Lewis once described it as the "finest public building exterior in Australia".

It is the cornerstone of the Treasury Reserve government precinct adjacent to the Treasury Gardens and creates an important vista terminating Collins Street, the financial spine of the city.

When the official treasury offices were moved in 1877-78, the building was nicknamed the 'Old Treasury'.

The building is also notable as it was the unofficial first capital building[citation needed] of Australia. In February 1899, a "secret" Premiers' conference was convened, after which it was decided Melbourne's Parliament House would be the temporary capital until the location of the Australian National Capital was officially announced.

Old Treasury Building

The Old Treasury Building at dusk in 2012

The Old Treasury Building previously housed City Museum and reopened in 2010 as a not-for-profit organisation with permanent exhibitions detailing the history of Melbourne and the Victorian gold rush[3].

The museum's permanent exhibition, 'Melbourne: Foundations of a City'[4], presents a rich narrative of Victoria's history from the 1830s, highlighted by key documents and artifacts from Public Record Office Victoria (PROV). These documents and artifacts once held in the Old Treasury Building gold vaults explore themes of Indigenous Victorians and first white settlement in 1835, Criminals, Victorian Democracy, Victorians at Work and the Gold Rush.

Built on Gold is particularly inspired by the epic story of the Victorian gold discoveries from 1852 to 1862. In those ten years Melbourne was transformed from a struggling settlement town into a bustling city of international reputation. Built on Gold traces this story through historical themes and explores the economic, cultural and recreational aspects of the city's life, then and now.

Presented through a dynamic combination of significant artefacts, images and multimedia exhibits the Old Treasury Building brings history to life. Included in the displays are highlights from Public Record Office Victoria including an ever changing collection of original documents which illustrate Melbourne's cultural heritage. Temporary exhibitions further expand on the museums themes and offer more contemporary commentaries[5].

In the media

The Old Treasury Building features in the climactic sequence of the film Knowing (2009). Though set in Boston, Massachusetts, the movie was shot in Melbourne (the two cities are officially recognised as being sister cities). A number of other Melbourne landmarks are also featured.


One continuous use of the building since its construction in 1862, is the office of His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, who still holds weekly meetings of the Executive Council, consisting of the Governor and at least two Ministers of the Crown, that is, the leaders of the governing party. The Governor in Council as this meeting is called, is the formal enacting of legislation when the Governor's signature and the Great Seal of Victoria is put in place on the bill. Various other appointments and other regulations are also formally made at this weekly meeting, upon the advice of the Premier and Parliament of Victoria.

In addition to the museum, the Old Treasury Building is home to Leadership Victoria, the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, The Victorian Marriage Registry, and most living former Premiers of Victoria.


  • The Treasury Reserve. Frances O'Neil. Department of Infrastructure. 2000.

External links

Coordinates: 37°48′47″S 144°58′27″E / 37.813153°S 144.974121°E / -37.813153; 144.974121

This page was last updated at 2019-11-14 12:06 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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