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Turning the Key: Opening Australia’s Parliament House

On 9 May 1988, 87 years after Federation, Australia’s first permanent Parliament House was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The building is the meeting place of the Federal Parliament and the symbol of Australian parliamentary democracy. It is one of the most visited and recognisable buildings in Australia, and its integration of art and architecture has won international acclaim.

As the largest construction site in the Southern Hemisphere at the time of building, the design and construction of Parliament House within a 10-year period remains an architectural feat unrivalled in Australia. Its official opening was celebrated with ceremony and spectacle.

This exhibition celebrates the 35th anniversary of the opening of Parliament House and invites you to explore the unique features of this building in a new light.

If you can’t visit in person, you can explore the story of the new and permanent Parliament House online.

1. Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects (established 1979, designer), Royal Australian Mint (established 1965, fabricator), Ceremonial key used by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to open Parliament House, 9 May 1988, c.1988, Official Gifts Collection, Parliament House Art Collection. 
2. Glen O’Malley (born 1948), Untitled, 1985, Art/Craft Program, Parliament House Art Collection.

Dates: 6 May to 19 November 2023

Cost: Free

Venue: Presiding Officer’s Exhibition Area, Level One

Parking: Free for 1 hour, then parking rates apply

Find out what events are coming up at Parliament House


We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of country throughout Australia and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to the people, the cultures and the elders past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.