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Dome furniture

27 August 2020

Watch Access All Areas: Dome furniture

One of the enduring delights of the domed La Trobe Reading Room is being able to sit in a chair with well-worn grooves that has seated generations of readers, thinkers and dreamers for more than 100 years.

Kate Torney shares some of her favourite pieces of dome furniture, whose happy unity of form and function create the perfect counterpoint to the grandeur of the space.

Discover more about the dome furniture

  • A conservation analysis prepared in 1985 notes the desk, chairs, central observation dais and ventilation ducts were all designed by NG Peebles of Bates, Peebles and Smart architects. Peebles based his chair design on conventional office swivel chairs of the period, and the chairs were made in polished Queensland silky oak for a cost of less than £220 for the set. We can only feel grateful that the authors of this report were sensitive to the coherence of the original furniture in the space, and recommended to 'retain and conserve all original fabric and fittings including the original seating, fixed desks, centre stands, folio cases, clock and shelving.' (They go so far as to recommend retaining all original signage, too, 'whether gilt lettering applied to glazing or gilt or painted lettering directly applied to the polished timber doors'.)
  • If conservation analysis makes you happy, this 1991 conservation plan offers meticulous information on the dome's furniture.
  • When asked to name their favourite space in the Library, most visitors namecheck the La Trobe Reading Room – find out why.

About Access All Areas

In this video series, join former CEO Kate Torney for exclusive insights into her most cherished collection items, spaces (including some that even staff can't access!), legends and legacies at State Library Victoria.

Find out more and view all episodes of Access All Areas.