Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Queen Victoria Women's Centre: Open House Melbourne

Nestled among the shiny new, modern buildings of QV in Melbourne is the Queen Victoria Women's Centre, which was open as part of Open House Melbourne.

The QVWC was the site of the first Royal Melbourne Hospital, and the place where nursing practices were pioneered by Lady Superintendent Jane Bell from 1910 to 1934. Following this period, it became the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, where the focus was on women's health, being 'for women by women'.

Mid-wife birthing, the use of interpreters, gender dysphoria, IVF clinic and support for women who have been victims of sexual assault, are all attributed to this Hospital. Today's QVWC is actually the only surviving pavillon of the vast Hospital, and the most ornate.

Since 1986 it has been the QVWC, a place for women's organisations of support, activity and leadership, starting out with a campaign to keep the building for this purpose, despite the modern developments going up all around it.

Just inside the front gate is the Shilling Wall, which celebrates over 500 women's contribution as mothers, sisters, grandmothers, caregivers, community contributors - teachers, nurses, politicians and journalists.

Entering the building itself, the interior is grand and beautifully fitted, with the gallery after the lobby featured an exhibition of photographs of the intricate details of the building above.

Up to Level 4 and the Victoria Room, the medical care aspect is represented with old hospital beds - which, in it's peek, spilled out onto the vast balcony.

Up again to Level 5, I was treated to spectacular inner city views of Melbourne, with the grand dome of the State Library at one side, and then the vast cityscape sprawled out in beyond the other.

Up on this level was also the Atrium, which can he hired as a function or meeting room, which is just stunning. Stained glass windows with this view - inspiring!

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