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Grand Vistas — Panoramas from the collection

Grand Vistas — Panoramas from the collection

Travel across Australia and see the world through 19th century panoramas from the Library’s collection. 

Exhibition
Friday 27 May 2022 to Sunday 16 April 2023
Admission: Free

Location

Grand Vistas — Panoramas from the collection

Travel across Australia and see the world through 19th century panoramas from the Library’s collection. 

Panoramas — extensive, often encompassing 360 degrees, images of landscapes or cities generally many metres long —  developed in the early 19th century as a form of popular entertainment. Grand Vistas introduces visitors to 16 panoramas — each a miracle of detail and observation —  drawn from the Library’s collection. Visitors can travel from Istanbul, to Kolkata, to Singapore, or Fremantle, Hobart or Port Macquarie.

Panoramas were the Street Views of their day. In 1830, for instance, a Londoner could visit Paris, Calcutta, Sydney, Hobart and Constantinople without leaving town. For many people panoramas were one of their first introductions to worlds beyond their own.

Many of the panoramas in Grand Vistas were made by colonial artists keen to record their new worlds for their family and friends. Colonists, worried that all Europe seemed to know about NSW was that it was populated by convicts, believed that panoramas illustrated the success of the British Empire in the antipodes. Indeed colonial panoramas were political and polemical, arguing — through the careful delineation of churches, government and military buildings and grand private residences – the opportunities offered by colonisation. 

Of course First Nations people – whose lands are the subjects of many of these panoramas — rarely feature in them. Instead they are mostly removed to the margins of the panorama, and presented as a contrast to European development. Panoramas are also, therefore, silent witnesses of colonisation.

Grand vistas

Sixteen panoramas will displayed in the inaugural exhibition of the Library’s new Drawings, Watercolours and Prints Gallery.

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