Art and Design


The Iron Church

For over 50 years, the site next to the New South Wales Parliament on Macquarie Street was occupied by one of the Colony's more unusual pieces of architecture.

Douglas Snelling: Pan-Pacific modernist

Stylish and talented architect-designer Douglas Snelling introduced modern American living styles to aspirational Sydneysiders after the Second World War.

How Australia builds

The recently digitised Building magazine is a trove of information about twentieth century construction. 

The five bridges

From the 1800s, a host of bridges were built over the bays and coves to the west of Sydney. Five became known as the ‘five bridges’: Gladesville Bridge, Fig Tree Bridge, Glebe Island Bridge, Iron Cove Bridge and Pyrmont Bridge.

Government House, Domain, Sydney

By 1834, pressures on land in Sydney Cove compelled Governor Bourke to move Government House.

Old Government House, Sydney Cove

For 56 years almost every Governor lived in the house on the corner of Phillip and Bridge streets


Drawings and paintings

Conrad Martens and George Edwards Peacock: Sydney artists

Artists have always been attracted to the natural beauty of Sydney Harbour and its foreshores.

Papua New Guinea (PNG): Forty years of independence

Although European navigators visited and explored the Papua New Guinea islands for 170 years, little was known of the Papua New Guinea inhabitants until the late 19th century.

The story of May Gibbs

May Gibbs, author, illustrator and cartoonist, has captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of Australians with her lovable bush characters and fairytale landscapes.

A French sailor-artist on the South Seas

An enquiry from France brings to light a gem of nineteenth century travel illustration.

Arresting gaze

A compelling portrait of a young colonial woman has been given new life. 

The Magic Pudding

In October 1918 Angus & Robertson published what would become one of Australia’s best known children’s stories: The Magic Pudding.


An 1802 portrait of a young Eora man, by French artist Nicolas-Martin Petit, is remarkable for its attention to detail.

Eternally yours

Buried deep down in the cool darkness of the Library’s framed picture store hangs a beautiful portrait of the young Mrs F O’Brien. It was painted in mid-1841 by naval surgeon-turned artist Maurice Felton from a death mask.

Graphic design

Working for the Weekend

Donald Horne’s unlikely editorship of the mass-market Weekend magazine was a crucial stage in the Lucky Country author’s development as a public intellectual.

The Bowman flag

Our first coat of arms? The first recorded use of the kangaroo and emu supporting a shield is found on the Bowman Flag of 1806.

Fred Harris Tattoo Studio

Sometime around 1916, Fred Harris opened a small tattoo shop in Sussex Street, Sydney.

River dreams

Bold plans to transform the Cooks River in Sydney are reflected in the Library's collection.

The Sydney Cove Medallion

An interest by British arrivals in the quality of Sydney clay led to the making of the Sydney Cove Medallion by noted English ceramicist, Josiah Wedgwood.

How Australia builds

The recently digitised Building magazine is a trove of information about twentieth century construction. 

Decoration and Glass magazine

Decoration and Glass, a magazine for home builders, architects and decorators has been digitised in colour as part of the Library’s Digital Excellence Program.