Success Story: New Galleries & Learning Centre

Contributions from generous donors through the State Library Foundation have been critical to renewing the heritage Mitchell Building and opening up its spaces to ensure all visitors can enjoy our extraordinary cultural collections.

The new Michael Crouch Family Galleries, the Collectors’ Gallery, and the John B Fairfax Learning Centre are the most successful Foundation-funded projects in the history of the Library. The Foundation has contributed over $15 million to this landmark renewal project. We are grateful to our benefactors, who have made our vision a reality.

 

The late Michael Crouch AC

The Michael Crouch Family Galleries

In February 2017, we were delighted to announce major philanthropic funding to deliver our new galleries as part of plans to transform the Mitchell Building. The Michael Crouch Family Galleries on the first floor offer an imaginative showcase for our collections, among the richest national resources exploring the history, development and culture of Australia.

The opening exhibitions feature:

  • more than 300 works from the Library’s collection of landscape and portrait oil paintings
  • our six UNESCO Memory of the World collections, displayed together for the first time, including First Fleet journals, personal diaries of Australian soldiers on the Western Front and the world’s largest glass-plate negatives of Sydney Harbour taken in 1875
  • a collaboration with Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones and four Sydney elders that tells personal stories of Aboriginal Sydney and how the elders have continued the legacy of their ancestors
  • extraordinary images of Sydney captured by the Macpherson family of enthusiastic amateur photographers at the turn of the 20th century

The Library is indebted to the late Michael Crouch AC and the Crouch family for the realisation of this extraordinary project. Michael was a remarkable man who made a significant impact on so many areas of public life
— as a pioneering entrepreneur and as a philanthropist.


 

The Collectors’ Gallery on the ground floor features a massed selection from our ‘realia’ collection of artefacts — in line with the museological trend to turn institutions inside-out and maximise public access to their collections. The Library is known for its extensive collection of books, maps, photographs and artworks but we also hold many other artefacts which have largely remained out of public view. Our realia collection includes objects associated with Australian historical figures and events — Miles Franklin’s waratah teacup and saucer, Captain Cook’s drinking tumbler from HMS Resolution, Scott's compass from his ill-fated journey to the South Pole, Dame Nellie Melba’s Cartier hairpin box, Henry Lawson’s death mask and more.

Many thanks to the Nelson Meers Foundation, Sam Meers AO, Kim Williams AM, Rob Thomas AM, and the estate of the late Ruby Faris for their generous support of this space.

 

 

Family space in the State Library of NSW

The John B Fairfax Learning Centre

Complementing the galleries is the inspiring and contemporary John B Fairfax Learning Centre on the ground floor of the Mitchell Building. This innovative space inspires new generations of school children to better understand our nation’s history through the Library’s immense physical and digital collections.

As well as tailored curriculum-linked programs, the learning centre will offer school holiday activities and a dedicated drop-in space for families.

We thank John B Fairfax AO for his generous support of this project.