A woman takes a picture of paintings in a gallery.

Building the collection

Your gift helps us to acquire material, from historical to contemporary, that documents our place in the world.

The collection is at the heart of the Library’s work to support and encourage research, debate, conversation, inspiration, learning and enjoyment.  We collect printed books, pictures, letters, maps, manuscripts, photographs and more.

Donations to the Foundation allow the Library to add rare and exciting items to the collection. These acquisitions help tell the story of who we are and where we are going.

Examples of Foundation-funded projects that have enhanced the collection are listed below.

Sir Arthur Streeton’s 1894 panoramic view of Sydney Harbour

In April 2019 the Foundation was delighted to support a major acquisition for the Library’s picture collection by Australian impressionist Arthur Streeton. Panoramic view of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline, 1894, was most likely painted from a high vantage point near Curraghbeena Point (Raglan Street) in Mosman. It is the first Streeton painting in the Library’s collection. Thanks to a small, committed group of donors, the Library was able to purchase this important work.

View the catalogue record for Panoramic view of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline.

Painting of a harbour scene.

The earliest printed illustration of the Southern Cross by Andrea Corsali, c1516

A highlight of 2019 was the Foundation’s support for the acquisition of Lettera di Andrea Corsali allo Illustrissimo Signore Duco Iuliano de Medici, c1516. Italian explorer Andrea Corsali sighted what is now known as the Southern Cross constellation while on a Portuguese voyage to India. He included an illustration of the cross in a letter to his patron, Giuliano de Medici in Florence. This captivating acquisition is a significant addition to the Library’s collection documenting European exploration of the southern oceans.

View the catalogue record for Lettera di Andrea Corsali allo Illustrissimo Signore Duco Iuliano de Medici.

Explore more stories of donor impact

Pedro Fernandes de Queirós

Queirós Memorial No. 1, 1607

Acquired, 2018–19

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TAL Dai-ichi Life Derby Collection

Acquired, 2011

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Rose de Freycinet journal and letters

Acquired, 2014

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Captain James Wallis album

Acquired, 2011

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Photo of Emma books

First edition of Emma by Jane Austen

Acquired, 2017


Max Dupain & Associates commercial archive

Acquired, 2011

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Old manuscript with black writing

First Fleet journal of Jacob Nagle

Acquired, 1995

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A hand-drawn map, with red and black navigation lines, on yellowed paper.

1677 chart of the Indian Ocean

Acquired, 2010–11

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A close-up of a handwritten letter.

Waterhouse family papers and Bass papers

Acquired, 1998

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Letter from George Caley to Sir Joseph Banks

Acquired, 1996

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