State Library Victoria

Architect: Joseph Reed 1856

City of Melbourne | C15

Building Description

Opened in 1856 as the Melbourne Public Library, State Library Victoria is Australia’s oldest public library and one of the first free public libraries in the world. The library began with a collection of 3,846 volumes, and over the past 162 years has collected more than five million items including books, manuscripts, serials, photographs, artworks, maps, ephemera, and more. The library is constantly evolving, and over the next two years the Vision 2020 redevelopment project will transform its spaces, services and programs, including the reopening of The Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, the library’s original reading room and the oldest part of the Library. Newly designed spaces will also be created so that all Victorians and visitors can continue to be inspired by a world of possibilities. Come behind the scenes and tour the fascinating Conservation Lab. Built in 1887, Upper Swinburne Hall was originally home to the National Gallery of Victoria Art School where many well-known Australian artists trained. In later times it was occupied by Melbourne Museum and then in 2006, as part of the ongoing transformation of the library, this grand space was converted into a custom-built Conservation Lab. Today in the Lab, specialist conservators treat a surprisingly diverse range of items from the library’s collection, from textiles and photographs to paper, artworks, and books. This tour will reveal both the colourful history of the space and the day-to-day experience inside a working lab. Listen as an expert conservator discusses examples of their work, the use of specialist equipment and the role of conservation at the library.

What's On

Discover the relationship between the design of furniture used to store collections and the collections themselves. Look behind the scenes at high density storage of paintings and the how’s and whys of storing hundreds of thousands architectural drawings and maps.


328 Swanston Street, Melbourne 3000, Melbourne VIC

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