Albert Hall, Canberra – Fact sheet 250

An ‘Assembly Hall’ for the national capital was a priority as a place for civic and cultural activities to nurture the new city. Construction of the Hall commenced in July 1927 and it was officially opened on 10 March 1928 by Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce, who declared it the ‘centre from which will radiate all those aspirations that are truly national’.

As Canberra’s only performing arts venue for its first 40 years, Albert Hall influenced the growth of flourishing musical, operatic and dramatic societies, such as the Society for Arts and Literature, Canberra Relief Society and Canberra Repertory Society. It was also the venue for tours by the Royal Ballet and the Australian Ballet, and even housed exhibitions of paintings and sculpture before a national gallery emerged.

On a civic level, Albert Hall was used for many formal public assemblies. The first such event was the British Empire Forestry Conference held in September 1928. During World War II, Albert Hall was the venue for Red Cross fundraisers and in 1945, the unforgettable site of the celebrations of the declaration of peace. In the late 1940s, the first graduation ceremonies of the new Australian National University College were held there. On 3 February 1949, Immigration Minister Arthur Calwell, Mr Justice Simpson and Prime Minister Ben Chifley officiated at Australia’s first citizenship ceremony, held in Albert Hall, which was also the venue for annual Australian citizenship conventions.

In 1979, Albert Hall was classified by the National Trust of Australia (ACT) and in 1991 it was included on the ACT Heritage Register. In 2008, Albert Hall celebrated 80 years.

Records relating to Albert Hall

The Archives in Canberra holds a considerable range of records including files, photographs, and architectural plans and drawings relating to the construction, maintenance, administration and management of events. Management of Albert Hall transferred from the federal government to the ACT Government in 1988.

Correspondence files

Photographs

Architectural plans and drawings

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017