This Old Museum Stories website aims to collect and share people’s memories of one of Brisbane’s favourite public places—The Old Museum on the corner of Bowen Bridge Road and Gregory Terrace, near the Brisbane Showgrounds at Bowen Hills.
The Old Museum has been the site of cultural and educational facilities for over 130 years. At various times since 1863 this place has been a public garden, an exhibition venue, a grand concert hall, a museum, an art gallery, among other uses. Today it is home to the Queensland Youth Orchestras and other performing arts groups, and the venue for visiting acts. See the history page to dig deeper.
The building was constructed in 1891 for the Queensland National Agricultural and Industrial Association. Due to financial problems encountered by the Association, the State Government took over the building in 1897 and leased the concert hall to the Brisbane City Council until the Brisbane City Hall was completed in 1930. From 1891 to 1930, the Old Museum Concert Hall was the main venue for concerts in Brisbane, including recitals by Dame Nellie Melba and Ignaz Paderewski.
In 1899, works were carried out to enable the Queensland Museum to be transferred to the building. The Museum reopened to the public in its new home in 1900.
In 1930, the concert hall was transformed into the Queensland Art Gallery. The Art Gallery occupied the space until 1974 when the collection was moved to a temporary location in the city while a purpose-built gallery was completed on the South Bank. The Concert Hall space was then used by the Queensland Museum until it also moved to South Bank in 1987.
QYO in The Old Museum
Queensland Youth Orchestras relocated its office and operations to The Old Museum at the beginning of 1989. The Queensland Government carried out major refurbishment works in the Old Museum Building in 1997, 1999 and 2005/2006. During the 1997 refurbishment program, the William Anderson organ was installed. The organ was built around 1890 and used in St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane from 1921 to 1987.
This website was founded by:
- Margie Barram—chair, Australian Garden History Society (Qld)
- Catherine Brouwer—landscape architect
- Peter Marquis-Kyle—conservation architect (and editor of this website)
- Alannah McFadzean—venue manager, Old Museum Building
This website was also supported by the Australian Garden History Society (Qld) which has a particular interest in seeing that the gardens at The Old Museum building are enjoyed and conserved.
In 2022, Queensland Youth Orchestras have taken over the running of this website.
The Old Museum building is listed in the Queensland Heritage Register because of its historical and aesthetic value, as well as the place it has occupied in the hearts of generations of Queenslanders. If you have had a connection with the place—however quirky—please go ahead and tell your story!