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State Library Victoria

Architect: Joseph Reed

City of Melbourne | C09

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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.

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Need to Know

  • Open: Thursday 3 & Thursday 1 January 10am-4pm - Booking required for this building

  • What's Open: Public spaces and galleries; Conservation Lab (pre-booked tours)

  • Special Note: Register in the foyer. Enter through the Library’s main entrance from the Swanston Street forecourt.

  • Tour Type: C09

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  • Tour Details: Bookings open on Friday 13 July 8:30 am (single release) until booked out. Tours at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm, running for 50minutes, in groups of 15

  • Access: Pram accessible, Fully accessible

  • Building Type: Education

  • Facilities: Toilets, Food and beverage available

  • Special Programming: Head to the Dome Galleries to see two permanent exhibitions, showcasing the history of Victoria and the State Library’s rare and significant books.

  • Year Built: 1856

  • Transport: Stop 8: Swanston St/Melbourne Central Station on routes 1, 3/3a, 5, 6, 8, 16, 64, 67 and 72

  • Photo Credit: Susan Gordon Brown


328 Swanston St, Melbourne 3000, VIC


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