Mirror of the world: books and ideas

Delight in the Mirror of the world: books and ideas exhibition, and discover the many rare and beautiful books held in our collections.

01 January 201431 December 2016
Bookings not required. Tel 03 8664 7099 for more information.
LocationDome Galleries
Accessibility Has wheelchair access

Discover stunning artwork alongside powerful words in this visual feast for book-lovers.

Recent acquisitions and new stories are featured each year in this special exhibition, revealing different aspects of the Library’s Rare Books collection, and showcasing rare and significant works that trace the history of book design from medieval manuscripts to comics.

From 10 October 2015, the exhibition features 235 new items on display, dating from 2050 BC to the present day. Highlights include:

  • selections from the John Emmerson collection, one of the world's most significant collections of rare English printed works, including the collected writings of King James I, printed in 1616 and given to his son Charles I;  the first major city newspaper ever produced, the Mercurius Civicus Londons Intelligencer (published 1643 to 1646); and important early editions of literary masterpieces, including Milton’s Paradise lost and Cervantes’ Don Quixote
  • a special display to mark the 50th anniversary of the Print Council of Australia (founded 1966) – a celebration of print in all its forms, the display includes highlights from the PCA’s Print Commission Archive, acquired by the Library in 2012, alongside treasures from our Australian artists’ book collection
  • 16th-century books relating to Martin Luther in honour of the 500th anniversary of Ninety-five theses, written by Luther in 1517 and including a list of propositions for an academic disputation
  • a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Alice, including the Library’s recently acquired first editions of Alice's adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the looking-glass (1872), along with a selection of illustrated editions and original artworks
  • the richly illustrated publications of ornithologists John Gould and John James Audubon
  • four Southeast Asian Muslim manuscripts from the Michael Abbott Collection
  • early Egyptology texts
  • the working papers of award-winning Melbourne author Sonya Hartnett, including the uncorrected proofs of her latest novel, Golden boys (2014)

The acquisition of the rare first edition of Alice's adventures in Wonderland and the Sonya Hartnett papers were achieved thanks to the generous contributions we received in response to our 2015 Annual Appeal.

Opening hours

This free exhibition is open 10am–5pm daily.