New spaces unveiled at State Library Victoria

21 September 2018

State Library Victoria today officially opened the first of its redeveloped spaces as part of Vision 2020, an ambitious $88.1 million transformation that will increase public space by 40% and seating by 70%. 

Two new reading rooms were unveiled along with a dedicated special events venue supported by a state-of-the-art production kitchen, and a vibrant new lounge and meeting space, which is also home to a 60% larger Readings bookshop and new cafe, Guild. 

This shared space, designed for working, collaborating and relaxing, will also feature a large-scale original artwork by Melbourne artist Tai Snaith, spanning a 29x5 metre wall.  

Formerly housing the Melbourne Museum from 1906 to 1997 and the NGV from 1999 to 2002, the redeveloped sites are now accessed by two new entrances – the historic Russell Street entrance, which was closed for more than a decade, and a new accessible entrance on La Trobe Street.  

A brand new, world-class exhibition gallery, the Victoria Gallery, endowed by the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation, will also open in May 2019 as part of Vision 2020. 

President of the Library Board of Victoria John Wylie said today’s opening marked an exciting milestone in the once-in-a-generation redevelopment of Australia’s oldest and busiest public library.  

“The Library is thrilled to open the first of its transformed spaces, which feature world-class design and allow us to reimagine what a library can be,” Mr Wylie said. 

“Visitors are at the heart of everything the Library does and we can’t wait to see people using these magnificent new Library facilities, whether they are researching the collection, collaborating with peers, browsing Readings bookshop or meeting friends for coffee.” 

Minster for Creative Industries Martin Foley said: “This visionary project will ensure our State Library continues to be a welcoming and inspiring place for all Victorians, as it has been for the past 162 years.  

“State Library Victoria is responding to the needs of the community by opening up more of this beautiful, iconic building to the public – providing additional reading rooms, public spaces and function capacity. 

“We’re now at the halfway point of this landmark project and this is our first look at the stunning transformation of State Library Victoria.”

Architectus and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects led the design for the State Library Victoria Vision 2020. 

Architectus Director, Ruth Wilson said: “Architectus was tasked with the opportunity to transform the heritage Isabella Fraser Room, to a space that was both flexible and opulent to cater for grand events such as weddings and corporate functions. Our design strategy was to strip these spaces back to their inherent beauty, then add a sense that exciting and memorable experiences will occur within them.”

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