The beautiful State Library of Victoria at 328 Swanston Street is one of Melbourne's hidden gems. The Dome towers 35 metres above the desks in the great reading room where the lamps emit a wonderful glow over the room and the warm timber desks and chairs are a relief from today's moulded plastic and laminex.
Whenever I have visited it is full to overflowing with students
studying and the odd Melbourne citizen or visitor (it seats up to 300+) and yet the reverent library hush is actually warm and inviting and not at all intimidating. And there are laptops aplenty so although surrounded by books I suspect that many students are Googling for information!
|Study, read a book, read a newspaper - be inspired (mel365.com)|
|The Dome-less Melbourne Public Library 1856|
Originally named the Melbourne Public Library it opened in 1856. The Dome was added later and completed in 1913! In its day it was the largest reinforced concrete vault in the world - only beaten by the Pantheon in Rome! It now houses more than 300,000 books. So there's something for everyone!
|What a Dome. What a reading room (walkingmelbourne.com)|
But it's the Dome that's celebrating its centenary. It is such a wonderful surprise to walk into the building and be welcomed by the Dome, the light, the reverence. While visiting I recommend you visit the Cowen Gallery to see their free exhibition: Enchanted Dome: The Library and Imagination - you have until 14 July 2013. And while you are there why not take a free tour of the library and in particular the Dome. They run most days from 2pm - 3pm and begin in the front foyer. (I must do it myself!)
Tony and Maureen Wheeler of Lonely Planet fame have lived in Melbourne since their arrival overland from England in the 60's. They are extraordinarily generous philanthropists and the aptly named Wheeler Centre is 'attached' to the State Library of Victoria at 176 Little Lonsdale Street. This new type of cultural institution hosts some wonderful - mostly free - talks relating to books, authors, ideas and writing. They are often held at lunch time and in the early evening. Check out their programme on line. I recommend a visit. I am sure that this additional innovation assisted in Melbourne being awarded the 2nd UNESCO City of Literature in August 2008 (there are now 6 cities). (see earlier post 29 August 2012)
|Welcome to the State Library|
Bowen Cottage client comment this week: Another great stay