Velvet, Iron, Ashes

Discover surprising connections between some of Victoria's greatest stories

Free exhibition
Victoria Gallery, State Library Victoria
Opening spring 2019

The iconic Ashes urn is coming home to Australia for only the third time in 137 years, where it will feature exclusively in our brand-new exhibition Velvet, Iron, Ashes – opening in late spring 2019.

Velvet, Iron, Ashes, the Library's largest ever free exhibition, will explore surprising connections between some of Victoria’s greatest stories – including the origin of the Ashes urn. Visitors will discover the history of the 'original' Ashes cricket series and the urn, now a symbol of rivalry between England and Australia.

Velvet, Iron, Ashes will open up a whole new way of seeing our history and reveals as never before how our stories intersect. You will find out how the iconic Ned Kelly armour is connected to the famous Ashes urn, how fairy floss is connected to the Latrobe Valley's coal industry, and why the grand-daughter of one of our prime ministers once wore a glittering velvet cloak that symbolised the Murray-Darling irrigation scheme.

Showcasing treasures from the Library's collection and from other major institutions and private collections, this captivating exhibition will bring out the detective in you.

Velvet, Iron, Ashes is the first-ever exhibition in the new Victoria Gallery, which was endowed by the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation and established as part of the Library’s transformative $88.1 million Vision 2020 redevelopment.