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State Library of Victoria

  • Attractions
  • Melbourne
  1. An exterior shot of the front building of the State Library of V
    Photograph: State Library of Victoria
  2. State Library of Victoria
    Photograph: Roberto Seba

Time Out says

Take a free tour of the 1850s-built State Library, from the famous dome to the permanent exhibitions, to the Chess Room

The State Library of Victoria is a cultural landmark that houses an incredible amount of books, as well as several exhibitions and galleries.

The library was established in 1856 and is a grand presence on Swanston Street, with interior spaces to match. The La Trobe Reading Room is a six-storey-high domed room that is magnificent to look at. Beautiful artworks depicting Victoria’s history are exhibited in the Cowen Gallery for visitors to peruse. North and south rotundas and the Keith Murdoch gallery also hold exhibitions and artworks.

The library offers everything needed for a productive work day – free wifi, printing services and plenty of seating options (our pick is the aforementioned La Trobe Reading Room). Along with books and artworks, the State Library houses thousands of heritage items, maps, manuscripts and newspapers. Digital material is also available for readers to access. And all of this is free.

You will find people lounging on the lawns in front of the library on a sunny day, while various cafes are located close by to fuel the visitors with delicious treats. The Readings bookshop located inside the library gives them plenty to spend their money on.

Written by
Saakshi Gupta


328 Swanston St
Nearby stations: Melbourne Central
Opening hours:
Mon-Thu 10am-9pm; Fri-Sun 10am-6pm

What’s on

Handmade Universe

In a quiet gallery of the State Library of Victoria sits a fascinating new exhibition that investigates the historical importance of crafted and handmade items – from mapping the stars in a way no one has ever seen before, to the undergarment makers who sent their wares to the stars, and First Nations artists who craft their contemporary artworks with a close connection to traditional methods. The centrepiece of the exhibition is by Melbourne-based software engineer and artist, Sarah Spencer. Her almost two-story high knitted star map Stargazing dominates the room with a huge blue wall that maps the starry sky. It's inset with tiny lights that visitors can light up with their own traced star pathway. Wurundjeri, Dja Dja wurrung and Ngurai illum wurrung woman, Mandy Nicholson, also thinks big with a wrap-around mural that embraces the exhibition within. Dharangalk Biik|Star Country carries the marks of knowledge about the interconnection of the skies, waters and layers of the earth in Wurundjeri culture, and relates to the artist’s current fellowship research. There's plenty more to see in this small, but interesting exhibition – including a collection of historical items from the State Library collection. Handmade Universe is housed within the Victoria Gallery until February 26, 2023. Entry is free.

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