Albert Hall, Canberra

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.

The National 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

Title or description of record Date range Series, item number
Assembly Hall Canberra – construction of 1926 A1, 1926/3542
Assembly Hall Commonwealth Avenue 1926–27 A281, DGW1927/211
Halls – Albert Hall 1928 CP698/9, 46/5 part 1
Albert Hall – repairs and sundry services 1928 CP698/9, 46/5 part 2
Albert Hall – caretaking etc 1928 CP698/9, 46/6
Letting of Albert Hall for picture show purposes 1930–32 A430, G1214
Albert Hall, Canberra – ACT general administration 1933–57 A431, 1953/2064
Gift of plinth for use as sundial base 1935–38 A1, 1937/12238
Albert Hall – catering and refreshment rights 1937–39 A659, 1939/1/2806
Albert Hall – Caretakers Cottage 1938–40 A1, 1938/9768
Albert Hall Publication of Allocated Bookings 1945–46 A431, 1946/1922
Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – High Commissioner's reception – Albert Hall, June 1953 1950–53 A3522, 8/31
Royal tour 1954 – Civic ball at Albert Hall 1953–54 A462, 825/2/54
Personal papers of Prime Minister Harold Holt – opening of 1965 Australian Citizenship Convention 1965 M2607, 107


Title or description of record

Date range

Series, item number
Photograph No. 92 – Albert Hall, May 1928 1923–26 A5342, volume 1 part 1
Albert Hall, under construction 1927 A3560, 7480
Albert Hall and bust of 'Bellona', Roman goddess of war by Sir Bertram Mackennal 1928 A3560, 4238
Interior of the Albert Hall 1928 A3560, 4397
New Australian Festival Canberra – Albert Hall 1949 A12111, 1/1949/17/1
Opening of First Citizenship Convention 1950 1950 A12111, 1/1950/11/3
Albert Hall, Canberra ACT 1950 A1200, L13520
Australian citizenship and naturalisation ceremonies – Albert Hall, Canberra 1955 A12111, 1/1955/12/28
Debutante ball at the Albert Hall, Canberra 1956 A1805, CU77/8
Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet arriving at Albert Hall 1958 A1200, L26934
British sculpture exhibition – January 1964 1964 A7973, INT738/1
National electoral tally room – December 1964 1964 A7973, INT798/3

Architectural plans and drawings

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Albert Hall – sketch plans and elevations of proposed recreation room c1920–30 A2502, AB228
Albert Hall – perspective 1925–30 A2502, AB667
Architectural drawings – The assembly hall Canberra 1927 A2501, AA368
Albert Hall – details of false floor to orchestra pit 1929 A2502, AB1144
Canberra housing – Albert Hall caretakers cottage 1939 A2617, section 195/10237
Albert Hall – proposed extension to trap door and details of platform under stage 1946 A2617, section 9/16581
Albert Hall – proposed extensions – schemes 'F' & 'G' 1949 A2617, section 9/18946
Temporary alterations to curtain drives 1955 A2445, M8901D