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Past exhibitions

2021

Mapping the Pacific
Maps of the Pacific
13 November 2021 to 25 April 2022

The beauty, art and science of mapping across three centuries presented through a selection of maps, charts, atlases and globes of the Pacific.

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The Great Lavante poster
How's Tricks? Magic in the Golden Age
26 June 2021 to 27 March 2022

Spectacular illusions, bamboozling tricks, and death-defying escapes, Australia’s stage magic history revealed.

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2020

Gaby A
Coming out in the 70s
28 November 2020 to 30 May 2021

Speaking up and standing out, gay men and women proudly took to the streets in the 70s demanding to be seen, heard and accepted

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Leaves and twigs burning on a sandy ground
Eight Days in Kamay
18 July 2020 to 28 February 2021

In April 1770, a ship appeared off the shores of Kamay. This exhibition explores the eight days that followed and their continuing legacy.

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2019

Photograph of the bush
Living Language: Country, Culture, Community
13 July 2019 to 3 May 2020

In the International Year of Indigenous Languages, this exhibition tells stories of resilience and achievement from communities throughout NSW.

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Black and white photograph of gravestones in a cemetery.
Dead Central
25 May 2019 to 3 May 2020

Thousands of people travel now through Central Station every day, but how many know what once lay beneath it?

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Quick March! The Children of World War I
16 March 2019 to 13 October 2019

A personal look at children’s lives during the First World War.

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2018

Oil painting. Panoramic scene of a harbour.
Paintings from the Collection
October 2018 (ongoing)

More than 300 original artworks from the Library’s unique collection of landscape and portrait paintings.

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Old black and white photograph of men sitting at the bottom of a large fig tree making boomerangs. A beach can be seen in the background.
Sydney Elders
6 October 2018 to 22 March 2020

Four Sydney elders, Uncle Chicka, Aunty Esme, Aunty Sandra and Uncle Dennis, tell a very personal story of Aboriginal Sydney.

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Blocks of coloured black and white histrorical photograph
UNESCO SIX
6 October 2018 to 5 May 2019

Our UNESCO World Heritage collections displayed together for the very first time.

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Box 04: Glass negatives of Sydney and Manly areas, ca 1890-1910
Memories on Glass
6 October 2018 to 5 May 2019

A rare personal record of one Australian family's life during the late 19th and early 20th Century. 

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2016

Dome shaped hedges sit in the foreground, with a view of a mountain range in the far distance.
Planting Dreams: Grand Garden Designs
3 September 2016 to 17 April 2017

Exploring the ideas, influences and inspirations that have shaped our gardening culture.

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A printed illustration of pansies.
Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens
3 September 2016 to 15 January 2017

Australia’s leading garden photographers capture the essence of contemporary landscape design across the state.

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A hand coloured photograph of soldiers filing past the ruins of grand buildings.
Colour In Darkness: Images from the First World War
25 June 2016 to 21 August 2016

Hand-coloured photographs by 'digger artists' exhibited for the first time in 90 years.

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Pennant Hills High School, 1967, photo by Max Dupain & Associates
Imagine a City: 200 years of public architecture in NSW
20 February 2016 to 8 May 2016

An exploration of the remarkable impact and legacy of the NSW Government Architect’s Office.

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Family Fragments
13 February 2016 to 8 May 2016

A rare insight into the private lives of one of Australia's artistic icons, Olive Cotton and her husband's family.

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2015

What a Life! Rock photography by Tony Mott
17 October 2015 to 7 February 2016

From candid portraits to awe inspiring live shots Mott has a unique ability to connect with his subject.

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Freedom Ride ’65: unpublished photos from the Tribune archive
5 September 2015 to 29 November 2015

Photographs of the '65 Freedom Ride from the Tribune reveal an alternative view of this landmark event in Australian race relations.

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Australian Inspiration
8 July 2015 to 27 September 2015

How the waratah, the koala and the Sydney Opera House became invaluable sources of inspiration and design.

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Crowd Source
4 April 2015 to 23 August 2015

In 1880s Arthur K Syer strolled through the streets of Sydney with a disguised camera taking candid photographs of everyday life in Sydney.

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Pulp Confidential: Quick & dirty publishing from the 40s & 50s
Pulp Confidential: Quick & dirty publishing from the 40s & 50s
7 February 2015 to 10 May 2015

A rich collection of 1940s and 50s vintage Australian “pulp” cover art, crime story illustrations and comic books, from the papers of Frank Johnson Publications.

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2014

Shopkeepers of Newtown: Photographs by Nic Bezzina
1 November 2014 to 10 May 2015

From 2009-2013 photographer Nic Bezzina documented the independent shopkeepers of Newtown, a suburb known for its diversity and alternative culture.

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Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War 1
Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War 1
5 July 2014 to 21 September 2014

Life Interrupted tells the story of those who served in WW1 — in their own words.

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Portraits of War: The Crown Studios Project
Portraits of War: The Crown Studios Project
28 June 2014 to 21 September 2014

This exhibition features photographs of soldiers who were heading overseas to serve in World War I.

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Artist Colony: Drawing Sydney’s Nature
1 March 2014 to 11 May 2014

Artist Colony was drawn from the TAL & Dai-ichi Life Derby Collection comprises 745 exquisite drawings and watercolours.

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2013

Kings Cross, 1970 to 1971: Photographs by Rennie Ellis
Kings Cross, 1970 to 1971: Photographs by Rennie Ellis
16 November 2013 to 11 May 2014

The exhibition features twenty-four original photographic created over the summer of 1970–71 by Melbourne-born Reynolds Mark ‘Rennie’ Ellis.

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Australian Glamour
Australian Glamour
10 August 2013 to 10 November 2013

Australian Glamour highlights Australia’s fascination with glamorous fashion pictures through the glossy pages of magazines.

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Men and women studying various exhibits under glass tables
AMAZE Gallery
April 2013 (ongoing)

Amaze: The Michael Crouch Gallery a permanent gallery to exhibit the breadth and depth of the Library ’s extraordinary collections.

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Macquarie Collector's Chest, ca. 1818
Treasures of Newcastle from the Macquarie Era
2 March 2013 to 5 May 2013

Rarely seen artworks and maps tell the story of early colony Newcastle from its convict origins and its artistic expansion under Captain James Wallis.

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The Greatest Wonder of the World
23 February 2013 to 12 May 2013

The Greatest Wonder of the World features a collection of nineteenth century documentary images from the Holtermann archive of wet plate negatives.

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2012

The Life of Patrick White
The Life of Patrick White
11 August 2012 to 28 October 2012

The Life of Patrick White marks 100 years from the birth of Australia’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature.

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Lewin: Wild Art
3 March 2012 to 27 May 2012

Lewin: Wild Art is about the life and times of John William Lewin (1770-1819), the first free professional artist to settle in Australia.

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2011

Finding Antarctica: Mapping the Last Continent
3 December 2011 to 19 February 2012

The story of the gradual discovery, exploration and charting of this significant land mass using maps of Antarctica from the 15th woodcut maps to the 21st century satellite imagery.

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On Sale! Shops & Shopping
8 August 2011 to 30 October 2011

Modes of shopping have changed over time from general stores and street hawkers, to the stylish arcades and grand department stores of our cities, and the sprawl of the modern suburban shopping mall.

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Carved trees: Aboriginal cultures of western NSW
16 April 2011 to 26 June 2011

Ornate and expressive, carved trees have been used by Aboriginal people in New South Wales as a form of visual communication for thousands of years.

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Beach, Bush & Battlers: photographs by Jeff Carter
4 January 2011 to 20 February 2011

Jeff Carter photographs in Beach, Bush + Battlers celebrates the lives of everyday Australians in rural, outback, urban and coastal communities.

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2010

Mari Nawi: Aboriginal Odysseys 1790 – 1850
20 September 2010 to 12 December 2010

The story of the Eora and Darug people who sailed on English ships to destinations in Australia and throughout the world between 1790-1850.

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The Governor - Lachlan Macquarie 1810 to 1821
3 July 2010 to 10 October 2010

For the 200th anniversary of Lachlan Macquarie’s governorship, this exhibition tells the story of his contribution to colonial Australia.

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Edward Charles Close - sketchbook of New South Wales views, c. 1817
ONE hundred
9 March 2010 to 16 June 2010

For the Mitchell Library’s centenary, ONE hundred items presented to tell some aspect of the Australian and Pacific story.

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Exhibitions prior to 2010

Past exhibitions from 2006 to 2016 are in the State Library archive and past exhibitions prior to 2005 are archived in Trove.

Please note that content in archives may not always work as expected and that it cannot be updated.