State Library Victoria - history

How to research the history, development, architecture, collections and management of the State Library of Victoria.

Exhibitions list

This page lists most (but not all) of the exhibitions held at State Library Victoria.

We have attempted to list all exhibitions hosted by the State Library (or heavily featuring Library collections). Please contact us if you can suggest an exhibition that should be added to this list. For travelling exhibitions, dates given indicate the dates an exhibition was displayed at State Library Victoria.

There are additional copies of many of the Library's smaller exhibition catalogues housed in the State Library Victoria: Australian Gallery File.


Year    Exhibition Name
1864 Exhibition of competitive pictures in the Public Library (North end of Queen's Hall)
1923 Shakespeare's Works and Shakespeariana
1932-1942 [Exhibitions on Victorian history in the McAllen Gallery]
1934 Centenary of Victoria
1938 Centenary of Geelong
1938 Copperplate engravings from the Sticht Collection
1938 Historical bibles
1938 Illuminated manuscripts
1939 [Photographic exhibition?]
1948 The word in manuscript and print
1950 Anniversary of the death of Madame Melba
1950 Bicentenary of J S Bach
1950 St Valentines Day
1951 Australian ships and shipping
1951 Jubilee of the Commonwealth
1951 Our sister southern continents: South Africa & South America
1965 Georg von Neumayer, 1826-1909 (catalogue)
1966 Bernard O’Dowd, 1866-1953
1966 La Trobe’s Melbourne (?)
1966 Melbourne treasures (?)
1967 Early Melbourne suburbs (catalogue, photos taken at the exhibition's opening)
1967 Henry Lawson centenary
1967 The early years of Ballarat
1968 S T Gill in Victoria
1968 Sail and steam: an exhibition of early Australian shipping
1968 The Charles Troedel collection of early commercial lithography
1969 Authentic reproductions of Aboriginal art
1969 John Pascoe Fawkner 1792-1869
1969 Sporting life in Victoria
1969 The early years of Geelong

1970 Cook in the Pacific
1971 Galileo
1971 Playbills and players: an exhibition of Victorian theatre history
1971 The Percy Leason collection
1972 When we rode the rails: an exhibition of railway history in Victoria
1973 The first hundred years of Australian children's literature
1973 Victoria's alpine scenery: the Winifred Waddell collection
1973 Victoria's Catholic story (catalogue in Australian Gallery File)
1974 Matthew Flinders 1774-1814: a bi-centenary exhibition
1974 Victoria through the lens: an exhibition of early photographs in the La Trobe Library
1975 All those empty pages: World War I
1975 Conabere collection
1975 Early Melbourne buildings: an architectural exhibiton
1975-1976? La Trobe's Melbourne 1839-1854
1975 The art of botanical illustration
1976 Cartography in India
1976 The centennial bloke: 100 years of C J Dennis
1976 Victorian Volunteer Forces (?)
1976 William Caxton: an exhibition to mark the quincentenary of the introduction of printing into England
1977 A celebration of books
1978 Celebrating Australian books
1978 Drawings by Hans Holbein
1978 Taming the coast: early navigation and settlement along Victoria's south west coast (catalogue)
1979 Albert Einstein centenary
1979 Australian Book Week
1979 Exhibition of fine books, drawings and photographs arranged to commemorate the centenary of the birth in February 1879 of 1979 An exhibition of fine books, drawings and photographs arranged to commemorate the centenary of the birth in February 1879 of Norman Lindsay (catalogue)
1979 Young Australians read

1980s A land in the shape of an ashtray
1980 Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria 1880-1980
1980 Victorian treasures from the La Trobe Collection
1980 Women in Victoria to 1914: an exhibition arranged to commemorate International Women's Day
1981 Barry's 'great emporium': State Library of Victoria 1856-1881: an exhibition to mark the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Melbourne Public Library on 11 February 1856 (catalogue)
1981 Information: the key to our future
1981 Recreating our past
1981 The banksias
1982 Book Design Awards
1982 Celebrating the merino in Australia
1982 Dreams of a golden harvest: gold seekers in Victoria
1982 Exhibition of medieval illuminated miniatures and single leaves
1982 From a royal collection: an exhibition of Swedish glass artware
1982 Trade unions in Australian society
1982 Trespassers and intruders: the Port Phillip Association and the founding of Melbourne (catalogue)
1983 Australian comic art
1983 Book Design Awards
1983 Hispanic community arts & crafts
1983 La Perouse and Australia (Laperouse et L'Australie) (catalogue)
1983 Osh u Bijutsu Kurabu (Japan)
1983 Picturesque Victoria through the eyes of William Tibbits
1983 Sho today
1983 The best designed Australian books of 1982
1984 1934: a year in the life of Victoria
1984 Cook in the Pacific
1984 Housing as it was: Melbourne 1900-1940
1984 Peace progress amity: trade union banners and labour celebration (catalogue)
1984 The French presence in Victoria 1800-1901
1984 The Japanese garden: its beauties and traditions
1984 The phenomenal city: Melbourne 1840-1900 (catalogue)
1985 A public tradition: acquisitions during presedential years of Mr. Justice Starke
1985 An early picking: Victoria's first wine industry (catalogue)
1985 Caxton to computers
1985 Don't shoot darling: an exhibition of popular female culture of the 1950s (catalogue)
1985 Georg von Neumayer 1826-1909
1985 The gleeful years
1985 The Heidelberg School picnic: an exhibition of contemporary Australian cartoons, illustrations and humorous creations (catalogue)
1985 Vance and Nettie Palmer: an exhibition to celebrate the centenary of their births (catalogue)
1985 Victorian vision: 1834 onwards
1985 Victoria's Italians 1900-45: an exhibition of photographs and documents
1986 A tribute to Victor Cobb 1876-1945 (catalogue)
1986 George Baxter (1804-1867)
1986 Carbine at the State Library of Victoria
1987 Book labels of Australia: the Holroyd collection (catalogue, collection)
1987 Holmes away from home (catalogue)
1987 Living places: twenty houses, photographs by Dryanda Prevost, drawings by Ann Rado (catalogue, book)
1987 Ms Ink
1987 This is ephemera
1988 200 in the shade: how white cartoonists have depicted Aboriginal Australians
1988 Book exhibition
1988 May Day exhibition (catalogue) featuring the Merrifield and Riley Collections.
1988 Pictures in an institution: new directions new acquisitions
1988 The great south land
1988 The life and adventures of Edward Snell
1988 Suomalaiset Australiassa: Finns in Australia (catalogue)
1989 A display to mark the 80th annual exhibition of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors
1989 Building a country: Chinese, Greek, Italian, Lebanese and Vietnamese immigrants and their descendants in Victoria 1848 -1989
1989 La Trobe and his circle: an exhibition to mark the anniversary of the arrival of Victoria's first Lieutenant-Governor (catalogue)
1989 Liberte, egalite, fraternite: pages from the revolution
1989 Port Phillip colonial 1801-1851: early government buildings and surveys in Victoria
1989 Redmond Barry Day
1989 Charles Norton: a squatter artist in Australia Felix 1842-1872 (catalogue)
1989 The new art: photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877)
1989 Boyd: Robin Boyd: the architect as critic
1989 Too dark for a lighthorse: an exhibition of photographs and documents depicting Aboriginal involvement in the Australian Army
1989 Collected lives (?)

1990 By jingo, buy buttons: buttons and badges 1914-1920: ephemera from the Picture Collection
1990 Having a lively time: Australians at Gallipoli in 1915 (digitised catalogue)
1990 New museum buildings in the federal public of Germany
1990 Pressing issues: contemporary posters from local co-operative presses
1990 Second Viennese School (catalogue)
1990 The Great Houdini (catalogue)
1990 Waterloo and Wellington: 175th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo (catalogue)
1990-1991 Backyards and beyond: the Australian back yard (catalogue)
1991 Exhibition of books and boats (catalogue, catalogue in Australian Gallery File)
1991 Art record, Australian oil paintings in the State Library of Victoria (catalogue)
1991 Building a country: Maltese immigrants and their descendants in Victoria 1838-1991
1991 Elvis lives! [In Melbourne]
1991 Fine feathers: images from the beau-monde
1991 Funny Valentines: love's labour's mock'd
1991 Inner city artists: artists and studios within Melbourne's inner suburbs
1991 International Women's Day: struggle and celebration
1991 Karikatura: exhibition of recent Soviet cartoons
1991 May and Mina Moore
1991 Sojourners and settlers from Japan in Victoria 1897-1991
1991 Stories told by Australia's original people
1991 Swamps and sewers: Melbourne down the drain
1992 Roots in Denmark: Danish children’s literature today
1992 Charles Norton: a squatter artist in Australian Felix, 1842-1872 (catalogue)
1992 Golden hands (catalogue, catalogue in Australian Gallery File)
1992 Masters of magic: featuring the W G Alma Conjuring Collection
1992 Picture and book remain: the Yeats family and the Cuala Press
1992 Quiet industry and good conduct: German Immigrants and their descendants in Victoria
1992 Sentimental, sacred and secular: books and bookmarks
1992 Women's business: a display celebrating International Women's Day
1993 An Australian pilgrimage: Muslims in Australia from the seventeenth century to the present
1993 Art deco in Australia 20 October to 21 November 1993 (catalogue)
1993 Courage to care: rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust
1993 Images of the past: the rediscovery of Ancient Egypt (catalogue)
1993 Mythologies: myth and identity
1993 Remembrance, memory and life: Jewish Holocaust survivors in Victoria (Survivors of the Holocaust) (catalogue)
1993 Surrealist texts
1993 The book collecting earls of Castle Howard
1994 A glimpse of Georgiana: Georgiana Huntly McCrae 1804-1890 (catalogue)
1994 Australian popular fiction 1904-1928: A C Rowlandson and the New South Wales Bookstall Series
1994 Limited editions: beauty and the book
1994 Comfort and controversy
1994 Mother Goose
1994-1996(?) Raiders of the lost archives: 1994-96 exhibition
1994 Reading public
1994 The black art: the invention of printing in the fifteenth century
1994 Weltkrieg 1914-18: an exhibition of contemporary World War I material held by the State Library of Victoria
1995 A social history of Melbourne: portrayed through children's fiction, non fiction and picture books (catalogue)
1995 Conjurers, spirit-mediums and mind readers
1995 Bushman and bookworm: Joseph Furphy in the State Library of Victoria (catalogue)
1995 Ethereal or earthly? Friend or foe? Bunyips in Australian children's literature (website)
1995 Images of the past: Greek and Roman Egypt (catalogue)
1995 Images of Christmas: from the Children's Literature Research Collection and the Ken Pound Collection at SLV
1995 Moomintrolls, a travelling exhibition of the Finnish series of children's books written and illustrated by Tove Jansson (catalogue, website)
1995 Moving tales: paper engineering and children's pop up books (catalogue, website)
1994-1995 Robert Louis Stevenson: a commemorative exhibition
1995 The gingerbread man meets Dali: postmodernism and the picture book (catalogue, website)
1995 The Major Arthur Moon Collection: watercolours and drawings by artists in P.O.W. camps on the Burma-Thai Railway 1944-45 (catalogue)
1995 Victoria at the great exhibitions 1851-2009
1995 Heroes and heroines from ancient myths and legends (catalogue) in children's books
1995 Pluck and grit: boys' adventure annuals 1990-1950 (catalogue)
1995 Danger: postmodernism doesn't give a flying duck
1996 "My oath!": 102 years of Seven Little Australians! (catalogue, website)
1996 Baker of ours: Kate Baker in the State Library of Victoria (catalogue)
1996 Celebration of ability
1996 Cover girl cries murder: Australian pulp fiction 1940-1970 (catalogue)
1996 Domesticity to danger: themes in girls annuals 1880-1960 (website)
1996 Evil females in children's books (catalogue, website)
1996 Forbidden love bold passion: an exhibition of lesbian stories 1900s-1990s
1996 Life on the goldfields
1996 Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Collection
1996 The end of the world: an exhibition of post Holocaust science fiction (catalogue)
1996 The Library movement 1896 to 1902
1996 The stuff of nonsense: an exhibition of the rhymes of Edward Lear
1996 Time travel: an exhibition of Australian children's books (catalogue)
1996 Victorian rules football Populi Ludos Populo - the game the people for the people
1997 Batman, Catman and a kid called Ginger: the comicbook invasion of Australia
1997 Billabong revisited (catalogue) about the children's books by Mary Grant Bruce
1997 Children's books of Margaret Mahy (website)
1997 Learn the truth of the past…for a better tomorrow
1997 Mapping Marvellous Melbourne
1997-1998 Marcus Clarke: literary dynamo
1997 P*O*E*T Performer Publisher
1997 S T Gill: the colonial Cruikshank (catalogue, website)
1997 Wayzgoose Press: books, broadsides, prospectuses
1997 Without having to beg: the Prisoner's Aid Society and VACRO: 125 years of care
1997 A visual aspect: images of the State Library of Victoria
1998 Disappearing Victoria: photographs by Warren Kirk (catalogue, photographs)
1998 Just a line: comic postcards 1900-1950 from the Eve Pryor Collection (catalogue, additional copy of catalogue, website)
1998-1999 Pages for all time
1998 Southall from A to Z: Ash Road to Ziggurat (website)
1999 Baron von Mueller’s Melbourne: remarkable 19th century Germans (catalogue, archived website)
1999 Connies
1999 Sketches of France

2000 Charles Joseph La Trobe: landscapes and sketches
2001 All the rage: the poster in Victoria 1850-2000
2001 Belonging: a century celebrated
2001 Federation of Australia
2002 Burke and Wills: from Melbourne to myth
2002 Matthew Flinders: personal letters from an extraordinary life
2002 The Australian presents Matthew Flinders: the ultimate voyage

2002 The banksias: watercolours by Celia Rosser from the Monash University collection
2003 Hothouse: the flower in contemporary art (catalogues)
2003 Kelly culture: reconstructing Ned Kelly (catalogue, archived website)
2003-2004 Leunig animated
2004 Australian modern: the architecture of Stephenson & Turner (book, catalogue)
2004 The age of cartooning
2004 Gardenesque (book, catalogue)
Circa 2004-2022 The changing face of Victoria (closed 6 February 2022)
2005 Eureka revisited: the contest of memories
2005-2006 Lost & found: Peter Lyssiotis and John Wolseley: the adventures of two artists in the State Library of Victoria (catalogue)
2006 Partners in a new vision: Australia and Japan across time
2006 Naked democracy: governing Victoria 1856-2006 (catalogue, archived website)
2006-2007 Heroes & villains: Australian comics and their creators (catalogue, website)
2007 Famous: Karen Catt portraits
2007-2008 Victorians on vacation (catalogue, online gallery)
2009 Juan Davila: a panorama of Melbourne (catalogue, artworks)
2009 The independent type: books and writing in Victoria (programme of events)
2009 Flood reflections
2009-2010 Til you drop: shopping: a Melbourne history (online gallery, programme)
2010 Victoria 175 at the State Library, marking the 175th anniversary of the founding of Melbourne in 1835 (catalogue)
2010 Rick Amor: I cover the waterfront
2011 Look! The art of Australian picture books today (online gallery)
2011-2012 As modern as tomorrow: photographers in postwar Melbourne (online gallery, research guide)
2011-2012 Fine impressions: printmaking and artists books in Melbourne 1999-2010 (catalogue)
2012 Love and devotion: from Persia and beyond, presented with the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford (website, online gallery, catalogue, La Trobe Journal special edition)
2012 Allora & Calzadilla: stop, repair, prepare. Kaldor Public Art Project #26
2012-2013 Enchanted dome: the Library and imagination (catalogue)
2012-2013 Gusto! A culinary history of Victoria (online gallery, research guide, information sheets)
2013 Free, secular and democratic: building the Public Library 1853-1913 (online gallery, ebook)
2013 A natural history of the State Library of Victoria
2014 Linda Tegg's Grasslands (blog post, video, interview) Grasslands was the result of Linda's 2012 Georges Mora Foundation Fellowship at State Library Victoria.
2014 Rome: Piranesi's vision (online gallery, book)
2014 Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – from page to stage
2014-2015 Bohemian Melbourne (catalogue, online gallery)
2015 Australian sketchbook: colonial life and the art of S T Gill (website, book, online gallery)
2015-2016 Writing the war: personal stories from WWI (website, online gallery)
2016 Heroes and villains: Strutt's Australia (catalogue, website, online gallery)
2016 The Irish rising: 'A terrible beauty is born' (website, online gallery, research guide)
2016-2017 On air: 40 years of RRR (website)
2017 Self-made: zines and artist books (website)
2017 On Gunaikurnai country (online gallery) photographs of Gippsland Aboriginal elders by Angela Lynkushka
2017 Looped: artist books in the round (art by Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, otherwise known as Gracia & Louise)
2017 [Iranian migrant photos in Palmer Hall]
2017 [La Mama in Palmer Hall]
2017? [WWI in Palmer Halll]

2018 We are here presented by Midsumma Festival and State Library Victoria in association with Australian Lesbian & Gay Archive, and supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program.
2019 Velvet, Iron, Ashes. Scheduled 24 October 2019 - 12 July 2020 (Closed 15 March 2020 when Library closed due to pandemic)
2022 Bricktoria - event & activity
2022 Handmade universe: From craft to code and the spaces between. 24 June 2022 to 26 February 2023
2022 The Rest Is Up To You: Melbourne Fringe Festival 1982-2062 06 October 2022 - July 2023
2023 MIRROR: New views on photography 19 May 2023, 10:00am–28 January 2024
2023 Luminous: A thousand years of Hebrew manuscripts 17 October 2023 14 April 2024
2024 Melbourne out loud: Life through the lens of Rennie Ellis 1 March 2024 - 28 January 2025



Circa 2005 onwards World of the Book (formerly Mirror of the world: books and ideas) (website, book, catalogue 1st edition, catalogue 2nd edition)

Dates unknown:

Talking about Treasures
The La Trobe Rare Book Collection
Who was Eric Thake?
Victorians at War
Treasures of the State Library of Victoria
Burke and Wills: Terra Incognita
Diaries of a Working Man
1956 Melbourne Olympics
1951 centenary and jubilee train (catalogue record of this name - SLV exhibition on train)