A visit to the State Library used to take about an hour when one visited an exhibition that took up the two main original galleries with space going to the Shakespeare Place entrance to the Level One Galleries. However when I attended the newly expanded Gallery spaces it took me several hours to view the exhibitions and even then I could not get to the ground and lower ground exhibition spaces. Accordingly the Gallery now has up to seven exhibition spaces.

My main aim to visit the Library was to see somewhat harrowing and graphic photos of the Canon World Press Photo Awards. These were held in a brand new gallery called the Martin Crouch Gallery. I was told by one of the Security Guards that this beautiful new space with hand painted drapes by Wendy Sharpe was a result of the freeing up of office and administration spaces.                            

The main two galleries on level one of the Mitchell wing are taken up by a permanent exhibition with historic Australian paintings from the  Library’s collection.

The Shakespeare Place Level One Entry to the Mitchell wing is occupied by an exhibition entitled Quick March : The Children Of World War One.

The other Gallery on Level One that is attached to the main galleries is entitled Sydney Elders-Continuing Aboriginal Stories.

At the opposite end from the main galleries is an exhibition entitled Dead Central  which documents with archival maps and drawings of the original Sydney Town Cemetery’s bounded by Elizabeth, Pitt and Devonshire streets. In 1901 well over 30,000 bodies were buried there including a major cemetery where Central Station now stands.

Parallel to the two main level One gallery spaces is a small gallery entitled A Maze which contains an ever changing display of remarkable items from the Library’s collection. Currently on show are 1950s to 196s Qantas tourist photos, a selection of memorabilia from Australian jazz musician Graeme Bell, some letters and documents relating to P.L. Travers, a selection of pictures of magazine covers, and for me personally appealing an architectural drawing of the ‘new’ Grace Brothers to be built in the 1950s.

So in the future if you want to view the exhibitions at the State Library you may have to allocate at least a quarter or half a day to see what are always beautifully curated presentations.

Featured image- Picnic at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Circa 1885 Artist unknown. All pics by Ben Apfelbaum.