Free, Secular and Democratic: Building the public library, 1853–1913

Explore the story of the Library’s first 60 years with these rarely viewed drawings, paintings, photos and objects from our Free, secular and democratic exhibition. They illustrate key historical chapters, from founding vision to architectural development, the building of the collection and the influence of the cultural institutions which shared the Library site.


Highlights include Nicholas Chevalier’s splendid vision of the Library, John Gould's exquisite Birds of Australia and extraordinary photos of the construction of the iconic dome.

This exhibition is part of the Library's 2012–13 Dome Centenary celebrations.

Exhibition sponsored by

Exhibition supported by

State Library of Victoria State Government of Victoria – link to government home