Art and Design


Architecture: nineteenth-century Sydney

Convict architect Francis Greenway was convinced of the importance of architecture to the development of early Sydney.

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

Drawing to a close

An artist followed in the inspiring footsteps of a botanist rescued from a tragic expedition in 1848. 

A fully rounded masterpiece 

In difficult times, Australian expatriate artist George Lambert challenged himself to paint a distorted reflection. 

Mr Archimedes Moves In

The Library is the new home of award-winning children’s author and illustrator Pamela Allen’s extensive archive.

Art of Newcastle: convict artists in Aboriginal Country

An Aboriginal leader’s assistance to the artists of the Newcastle penal settlement led to an unprecedented visual record of the local Indigenous people.

The Wallis album

The discovery and acquisition of a fascinating album compiled by Captain James Wallis reveals the artistic collaborations between a commandant and a convict.

The TAL & Dai-ichi Life Derby Collection

This extraordinary collection of natural history illustrations contains 745 watercolours in six volumes, the collection conveys Europe’s naïve yet genuine sense of wonder at Australia’s unique natural history.

Convict artists in the time of Governor Macquarie

Many used their art to record and interpret the landscape and people of the early settlement.

Stories in the sun

The Library holds vast collections on Australian children’s book publishing in the ‘golden age’ of the 1970s and 80s.

Graphic design

Electric image: 1980s poster art and one Sydney band

An eye-catching poster got the message out for an emerging Sydney band in 1980.

Everything: a 1980s anarchist-feminist magazine

A feminist newspaper from the early 1980s brings back memories of lively co-op meetings, nutritious sandwiches and high ideals.

Mythical country: Vietnam in 1950s posters

Looking through Vietnamese art posters collected in the 1950s elicits complicated feelings all these years later.

Australian Inspiration

This is the story of Julie Paterson, one of Australia’s best known contemporary textile designers, and her design journey of drawing inspiration from the collection.



Hundreds of delightful and intriguing endpapers can be found in the State Library of NSW collection.

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.