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Members’ Bar — M523Main Floor

M523, the Members’ Bar, played a significant role as the bar and recreation place for Parliamentary Members. As part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms in Provisional Parliament House it was integral to the building’s early design and development. Located in the South wing of the building, the various separate dining and bar facilities of the rooms reflect the stratification of various classes of occupants of the building, especially in its early life when women, kitchen and waiting staff, and senior officers such as the Clerks of the House of Representatives and the Senate, all had separate dining rooms. The range of facilities was also vital if the building was to be fully self-contained as originally intended.

Like much of Provisional Parliament House, room M523 was designed by the Commonwealth’s first government architect, John Smith Murdoch, and though somewhat altered, it still displays the form, massing and style of the Inter War Stripped Classical style of the 1927 building. The rooms tend to be simple spaces with understated decoration. Subtle and repeated classical references, such as the use of Greek decorative elements and patterning, are found in these interiors. Due to significant alterations, including its enlargement in 1948 and a refurbishment in 1974, the Bar has a distinctive character being a fusion of 1927 and 1950s elements. The bar and walls are generally 1950s stained timber panelling. Some of the bar shelving appears to be 1927 stained timberwork. The ceiling is stained timber work, and there are decorative metal and glass skylights, all similar to those in the former billiard room. The lighting includes suspended 1950s aluminium fittings.

While the style of this room is a fusion of two periods, the dominant use of stained timberwork creates a generally consistent and interesting character. The Bar is generally unlike any other room in the building although it does share some of the qualities of the former billiard room. The changes which were undertaken in the room also serve to demonstrate the changing nature of the building since it was opened in 1927.