Exhibitions

Exhibitions at the State Library of New South Wales – current, past and future – seek to engage audiences with the extraordinary range, breadth and depth of our collections.
View opening hours for the Exhibition Galleries

Nelson Meers Foundation

The Nelson Meers Foundation supports the State Library of New South Wales in presenting its outstanding collection of rare and historic items to the Australian public through the Heritage Collection series.

 
See for yourself: the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, ca. 1949, H. Rousel

Australian Inspiration

Open:
8 July 2015 – 27 September 2015
Venue:
Exhibition Galleries

The unique beauty of Australia's native flora and fauna has long inspired artists and designers. The earliest natural history drawings of the waratah were used to document a new species. A century later there was a more decorative interpretation. Illustrations of koalas by Dorothy Wall, Norman Lindsay and Ida Rentoul Outhwaite reflect a society which had begun to define its cultural identity through native fauna. And sketches, models and contemporary artworks of the Sydney Opera House show how it evolved from a functional design to become a cultural icon.

Drawing on the Library’s rich collections, this exhibition focuses on how the waratah, the koala and Australia’s most recognizable building, the Sydney Opera House, have become invaluable sources of inspiration and design.

Image: See for yourself: the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, ca. 1949, H. Rousel

View the Australian Inspiration exhibition ›

The Grammar of Ornament, 1856, Owen Jones

Inspiration by Design

Open:
8 July 2015 – 27 September 2015
Venue:
Exhibition Galleries

Word and Image from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Don’t miss this stunning free exhibition that showcases some of the world’s finest book art, graphics, photography and illustration. From London’s acclaimed Victoria and Albert Museum, Inspiration by Design celebrates 150 years of collecting by the National Art Library. Immerse yourself in the book beautiful, from historic illustrated manuscripts and rare artists’ books to modern graphic design and fashion photography.

See over 100 treasures including original hand-drawn illustrations from Beatrix Potter, a Pablo Picasso artist book, fashion sketches from Dior and Comme des Garçons, rare medieval manuscripts and much more.

Exhibition organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A logo

Image: The Grammar of Ornament, 1856, Owen Jones
© VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, LONDON

View the Inspiration by Design exhibition ›

Ashleigh Barry and Lauren Kocass prepare for the Parade of Champions at the BJP National Championships

Physie: Photographs by Lyndal Irons

Open:
27 June 2015 – 4 October 2015
Venue:
Exhibition Galleries

The Bjelke-Petersen School of Physical Culture (BJP) was founded in 1892 by Hans Christian Bjelke-Petersen as a medical gymnasium in Tasmania. While it was initially concerned with correcting the health and posture of men and children, today physical culture (‘Physie') is the domain of Australian females of all ages. Even though Physie has modernised to include elements of dance and thousands of women participate, it remains hard to define.

Sam Hood's 1930s photographs and Lyndal Irons' record of the lead-up to the 2012 BJP National Championships, held at the Opera House, will be on display.

Image: Ashleigh Barry and Lauren Kocass prepare for the Parade of Champions at the BJP National Championships
Photography by Lyndal Irons, 2012
Copyright Lyndal Irons

View the Physie: Photographs by Lyndal Irons exhibition ›

Crowd Source

Crowd Source

Open:
4 April 2015 – 23 August 2015
Venue:
Exhibition Galleries

In the 1880s Arthur K Syer strolled through the streets of Sydney with his parcel-wrapped, hand-held 'Detective Camera', which allowed him to take photographs without the subject's knowledge.

The informal nature of Syer's photographs — low camera angles, blurred movement and an absence of careful composition — give 1880s Sydney a cinematic quality. The gestures and poses of the street can be sensed.

These images provoke us to put ourselves in the crowd, and compare the lives of 1880s Sydney-siders with our own experience of the city.

View the Crowd Source exhibition ›

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Macquarie St, Sydney
NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: (02) 9273 1414

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