The State Library of Victoria
Swanston Street, Melbourne, Australia
The State Library of Victoria Melbourne Reviews
Jun 13, 2007
The State Library is often overlooked as a place of interest in the city of Melbourne. The imposing building is nestled amongst the rush of the city, between high density sites such as RMIT University, Melbourne Central and QV.
The library is more like a museum than I'd imagined, and holds several permanent exhibitions that are well worth visiting. It also is the home of Ned Kelly's armour, and that alone is enough to draw in the hoards. The Changing Face of Victoria is the exhibition that displays Ned Kelly's armour and excerpts from the Jerilderee Letter: two items that have been a source of fascination to Victorians for years. Strangely, it also displays a mould of Kelly's smiling face that was cast after he died. The exhibition also has old photographs of life in rural Australia, and an interactive panel that allows you to explore Melbourne in its various forms over the years; from a settlement with horse-drawn carts, to the booming urban city it is today.
Mirror of the World is the other exhibition worth visiting. It stores a collection of rare books, including books from the Midget Library that holds books no taller than a matchstick, yet under a magnifying glass, the print is readable and it becomes clear that these are actual books. The exhibition also holds some fascinating natural history books featuring original hand-coloured drawings of wildlife. Works by the likes of Audubon and Gould are on display. Some of the books are so large, that drawings of a red kangaroo's head are life size. The exhibition holds many other books of historical significance, and points to how books have always been a reflection of humanity. And, the exhibition highlights that in today's world, where the onset of digital technologies threatens the very existence of books, the survival of the book depends on its ability to remain an object to be desired, owned and collected.
Part of the Melbourne Over Coffee travel blog
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