State Library builds Rome for a day

The State Library will be transformed into a piece of Italy this Sunday at the free Viva l’Italia! family day.

The Italian festival is inspired by the Library’s latest exhibition: Rome: Piranesi’s vision and will feature an array of free activities, entertainment and culinary delights.

Viva l’Italia! echoes Italy’s centuries old tradition of La Scampagnata or picnic. There’ll be wonderful Italian food, music and dance as well as bocce on the lawn and printmaking and mask painting for children. It’s a little piece of Italy in the centre of Melbourne.

Festivities include life drawing of models dressed as Roman gods, a DJ spinning Italian ‘50s ‘60s tunes, pizza acrobatics, Lego monuments of Rome to build, folk music and sing-alongs with Italian women’s choir La Voce Della Luna.

One of the day’s highlights will be the free Italian and English tours of Rome: Piranesi’s vision, the Library’s premier exhibition showcasing the exquisite artworks of 18th Century Italian master printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 – 78).

Come join us at Viva l’Italia! 11am-4pm, Sunday, April 13. Bookings are not required.

Full details here.


Viva L'Italia!

Viva L’Italia!


Inky Awards longlist announced

The 2014 Inky Awards longlist for peer-recommended, high quality young adult fiction has been announced by the Centre for Youth Literature (State Library of Victoria) at the Somerset Celebration of Literature festival in Queensland.

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Melbourne’s newest newspaper hits the streets Monday

This Monday The Melbourne Sirius will launch as Melbourne’s newest newspaper. It’s first edition will also be it’s last. The paper is a record of Melbourne’s rich newspaper history listing the name, birth date and death date of every defunct newspaper published in Melbourne between 1838 and now – all 525 of them.

Melbourne Sirius is an artist newspaper (a newspaper made as a work of art) produced by journalist, author and State Library creative fellow Rachel Buchanan during her 2013-14 fellowship.

Rachel discovered the Melbourne mastheads while examining an old State Library card catalogue. It is a remarkable and diverse list containing Welsh, Hebrew and Scandinavian papers – Greek sport only papers, abstinence papers, drug legalisation papers, surfing papers, music papers and many more all produced in central Melbourne. They give an extraordinary insight into the city’s past.

Rachel writes:

‘Melbourne Sirius appears at a historic moment; eight days after the publication of the last broadsheet version of The Age and two days after the launch of The Saturday Paper, a new weekly newspaper being published by Morry Schwartz. Even more significant, perhaps, is the closure of The Age’s print plant at Tullamarine at the end of March. From next month, The Age will be printed at Ballarat.

The paper invites readers to stop and contemplate what this moment might mean for them and for their city. It asks you to read slowly. What other moments are suggested by the long list of dead newspapers and the radical variety in the lifespan, purpose and tone of each of these papers?’

525 copies of Melbourne Sirius will be distributed by Rachel and her two daughters at significant newspaper sites around Melbourne.

Hand out times and places are as follows on Monday 3 March:

  • Herald and Weekly Times (corner Flinders Street and Exhibition Street): 11am – 12pm
  • Herald (Collins St, between Elizabeth and Swanston, outside Nespresso shop) 12.30-1.30pm
  • Argus (corner Elizabeth and La Trobe Streets) 2-3pm
  • Age (corner Spencer and Lonsdale Streets) 3.30pm-4pm
  • Age Media House (corner Collins and Spencer St) 4.30-5.30pm

Don’t miss out on your highly collectable copy of Melbourne newest newspaper.

Find out more.

Do you have a creative idea? The State Library Creative Fellowships are open for applications now.

'Melbourne Sirius' Design: Stephen Banham (Letterbox)

‘Melbourne Sirius’
Design: Stephen Banham (Letterbox)

Tickets on sale now for Library’s biggest-ever exhibition

Tickets are now on sale for Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage, a world-first exhibition and the biggest to ever be staged at the State Library of Victoria.

Exclusive to Melbourne, the exhibition will take visitors on a journey from the 19th-century Paris of Victor Hugo’s novel – Les Misérables – to today’s blockbuster musical.

Featuring rare items from the collections of the Musée Rodin, Bibliothéque Nationale de France, Maison de Victor Hugo, Cameron Mackintosh Archive and others, the exhibition will cover a history of more than 200 years to tell the Les Misérables story from page to stage.

CEO and State Librarian, Sue Roberts, says the exhibition will combine traditional elements with interactive displays to give visitors a unique and immersive experience.

‘We will have a gallery that explores the life of Victor Hugo, the Paris of his day and the writing of his masterpiece and its many adaptations. There will also be an entire gallery dedicated to the musical with singing, an orchestra pit and even costumes from the production so visitors can dress up and take centre stage. It will be a really fun experience and people of all ages can get involved.’

Roberts says a partnership with leading British theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh has made the dedicated gallery possible and brings another dimension to the exhibition that will be of huge interest to fans of the book, musical and film.

‘This partnership means that for the first time fans will get to see original Les Misérables scripts, scores, costumes, set designs, posters, photographs and film. It will take them backstage and into the heart of this extraordinary production.’

Recognising the partnership Cameron Mackintosh said:

‘I am delighted to partner with the State Library of Victoria as it brings together a world-first exhibition that showcases the life of Victor Hugo, featuring his literary masterpiece Les Misérables.

‘For the first time items from our archive will be on display giving fans the opportunity to witness iconic moments from my production of Boublil and Schönberg’s phenomenal musical adaption of Hugo’s great novel since its sensational debut over 28 years ago. This is an exciting international exhibition that I’m sure you will not want to miss.’

Also featured in the exhibition will be original drawings and watercolours by Victor Hugo himself; a collection of rare historic photographs by prominent French photographer, Charles Marville, gifted to the State Library by the French government in 1887; original scripts, scores, designs and posters from the 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company production; and original costumes and designs from the cinematic portrayals of Les Misérables – including the 2012 film starring Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe  and Hugh Jackman.

The library has been working with a number of major institutions in France to secure literary treasures that have never left Europe. These will be announced closer to the exhibition.

A program of events and an education program for schools will complement the exhibition exploring themes of history, politics, French language and culture, literature and theatre, and connecting these with the curriculum.

The exhibition coincides with the Australian premiere of Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed new production of Les Misérables at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, in June 2014. Les Misérables has been seen by over 65 million people worldwide in 42 countries and 22 languages, and is one of the most popular musicals of all time.

Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage will be on display at the State Library of Victoria from 18 July until 9 November 2014.

Tickets are on sale now through Ticketek

  • Adult –$15
  • Concession – $12
  • Child (3-16) – $12
  • Family (two adults + 3 children) – $42
  • Group – $11 per person, min 10 people, +1 complimentary ticket for groups over 20
  • School group – $9 per student, minimum 10 people, +1 complimentary

Note: Ticket prices include GST and booking fees. Transaction fee applies.

For more information and exhibition updates go to


ROME: Piranesi’s vision – a major exhibition of Italy’s master printmaker opens at State Library in February

Rome: Piranesi’s vision, the largest Australian exhibition of work from one of Europe’s best known and respected printmakers, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, opens at the State Library of Victoria on 22 February 2014.

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Take a break with a great Victorian book this summer

The Summer Read is on again and with the warm weather already here, it’s time to sit back, relax and lose yourself in a great Victorian book. Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a condolence message for Nelson Mandela

Visitors to the State Library of Victoria are invited to leave a message of condolence for His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

A special condolence book will be available near the Information desk in the Information Centre from 10am until 6pm each day until after the State Funeral is held in South Africa.

Inky Awards teen choice literary prize winners announced at State Library of Victoria

The Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria today announced the winners of the 2013 Inky Awards – Australia’s only national teen choice literary prize. Read the rest of this entry »

A Melbourne icon turns 100 today

The iconic domed reading of the State Library of Victoria, first opened to the public in 1913, turns 100 today. Read the rest of this entry »

Les Misérables, Ned Kelly and Victorian Media Hall of Fame make news at the State Library of Victoria

Last Friday at the State Library, the Melbourne Press Club announced their 2013 Victorian Media Hall of Fame inductees and that the Melbourne Press Club and State Library are working together to create a permanent home for the Hall of Fame at the Library.

The State Library is an appropriate home for the Hall of Fame – containing the most complete collection of Melbourne newspapers anywhere, dating back to the city’s first newspaper handwritten in 1838. The Melbourne Press Club’s Victorian Media Hall of Fame at the Library will feature information about people who have made significant contributions to journalism and the history of the news media in Victoria. Meanwhile, the State Library has been making some news of its own.

Yesterday the Premier of Victoria Denis Napthine announced the State Library of Victoria will stage a world-first exhibition about Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables coinciding with the musical’s return to the Melbourne in 2014.

Tonight, in a Melbourne exclusive, the Library hosts the Golden Globe and Grammy award winning composer of Les Misérables, Claude-Michel Schönberg in conversation with Julia Zemiro.

Last Wednesday the Library announced the donation of a letter written by Scotsman, Donald Sutherland, containing an eyewitness account of Ned Kelly’s capture. This remarkable document sheds new light on one of Australia’s most scrutinised historical events. We put it on public display this week for the first time since it was written 133 years ago.

Library Board of Victoria President John Wylie said he was very excited by these announcements.

‘When you look at what the State Library is doing today it’s incredibly exciting. Our collections, our exhibitions and our events make the Library a first class cultural destination. Victorians can be proud of their State Library, it is one of the world’s finest and we’re bringing extraordinary experiences to Melbourne.

This year the Library celebrates the centenary of its iconic domed reading room. It is a timely reminder of how the Library has inspired great thinking for generations. We will continue to do so for generations to come.’

  • Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage brings together an extraordinary collection of rarely seen material from around the world including original writing and artwork from Victor Hugo along with never before exhibited items from the archive of legendary theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh. Showing at the State Library of Victoria from 18 July until 9 November 2014. To register interest and receive updates  online at:
  • Donald Sutherland’s eyewitness account of Ned Kelly’s capture is on display in free exhibition The Changing Face of Victoria and available to read online.
  • A conversation with Claude-Michel Schönberg is booked out but the event will be recorded and made available on the State Library website soon.
  • Explore the 100 year history of the domed reading room at: