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The State Library of Victoria invites you to celebrate the centenary of its iconic dome
Since 1913 the Library's domed reading room has been the symbolic heart of our great institution. Celebrate the scholarship, creativity and learning this architectural icon has inspired for generations of Victorians. Learn more
The State Library’s domed reading room (now known as the La Trobe Reading Room) is a Melbourne icon, a space that has occupied a special place in Melbourne’s cultural life since its construction in 1913.
The soaring ceiling, ornate plaster work, balconies and distinctive seating plan in this octagonal room contribute to its special character, but these physical characteristics don’t entirely explain why the room is so loved by Melburnians. Throughout its history, the domed reading room has provided an ‘imaginative haven’ for artists, readers and writers.
The Library’s exhibition Enchanted dome: the Library and imagination celebrates the dome’s 100th anniversary and presents artistic, literary and musical works that celebrate this notion of the dome as a place to reflect, dream and be inspired.
The exhibition features representations of the dome in art and literature from the 1950s to today. They include prints by Marco Luccio, paintings by Louise Forthun, cartoons by Oslo Davis and Barry Dickins, and photographs by John Gollings and Mark Strizic. Writers represented include Ray Lawler, Shane Maloney and Arnold Zable.
Historian Stuart Macintyre described the dome as a ‘magical hidden place’. This idea resonates through the display, from Cernak’s whimsical ink drawings to Rick Amor’s brooding canvas of the dome at night.
Recurring themes highlighted in the exhibition also include the domed reading room as an icon of learning, a social space and, today as ever, a hub for students and researchers. Works also reflect the inspiration felt from not just the book collections but also the generations of scholars who have worked beneath the dome.
The writers, artists and musicians whose work appears in this special exhibition illuminate the reasons why the dome of the State Library is a haven for imaginative thought, a source of creative inspiration and the intellectual heart of the city.
Enchanted dome is curated by Ann Carew, curator and researcher at the State Library of Victoria.
This free exhibition is open 19 October 2012–14 July 2013 in the Cowen Gallery, or you can view highlights in the image gallery online.
Flickering lights and patterns are used in the music video presented in this exhibition.