Enjoy the Library's free permanent exhibition of oil paintings and portrait sculptures.
01 January 2015–01 January 2018
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The Library’s elegant Cowen Gallery features one of Australia’s most significant collections of Victorian artworks. Explore aspects of Victoria’s rich history in scenes of European settlement, early Melbourne streetscapes and portraits of some of Australia’s most influential figures.
This stunning collection includes works by Frederick McCubbin, John Glover, William Strutt, Danila Vassilieff, Percival Ball and John Francis.
Red & Blue Rotundas
The Cowen Gallery includes two adjacent rooms: the Red Rotunda and the Blue Rotunda.
The Red Rotunda contains 19th-century paintings and sculptures of some of Victoria's early settlers and other individuals who made important contributions to the history of this state, including Sir Redmond Barry, William Buckley and William Barak.
The Blue Rotunda houses 20th-century works such as portraits of authors, artists and others who have contributed to the rich culture of Victoria.
Throughout the year, the gallery also hosts occasional temporary exhibitions.
The Irish Rising: 'A terrible beauty is born'
From 17 March to 31 July 2016, the Blue Rotunda hosts The Irish Rising: 'A terrible beauty is born' – a display about the tumultuous days of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and a pivotal moment in the Irish struggle for independence from Great Britain.
The display includes rare artefacts and materials from the Library's collection including a first edition of WB Yeats' influential poem 'Easter 1916' and footage of the 1920 St Patrick's Day parade in Melbourne where 100,000 Australians demonstrated their support for Irish independence.
Visit What's on to view tours, lectures and events associated with this display.
Plan your visit
The Cowen Gallery is open Monday to Thursday 10am–9pm, and Friday to Sunday 10am–6pm.