The changing face of Victoria
Plan your visit
- Friday, 1 January 2021–Friday, 31 December 2021
About the exhibition
Temporary closure: Please note that Dome Galleries Level 5 is currently closed, but you can continue to explore it on this page.
About the exhibition
Since its establishment in 1854, State Library Victoria has collected material in an extraordinary variety of forms. In addition to books, magazines and newspapers, the Library houses photographs, drawings, prints, paintings, letters, diaries, papers, maps and artefacts.
Many of these items are associated with the people, places and events that have shaped life in Victoria from the time of first contact between Europeans and Aboriginal people through to today.
The changing face of Victoria provides a window into some of these Victorian stories. The exhibition presents an ever-changing display of objects from the Library's collections, ranging from key historical artefacts to items from daily life.
The themes explored in this exhibition are:
Ned Kelly's armour makes a move
Please note: Ned Kelly’s armour is currently not on display. It is being prepared to move to a wonderful new home in the Library and will be back on display this Autumn. Stay tuned for updates.
Ned Kelly armour deinstallation
Watch as Ned Kelly's iconic armour is deinstalled and removed from The changing face of Victoria exhibition.
3D video tour
Tour the Library's 1866 Great Hall, a temporary structure built to house the Intercolonial Exhibition, almost 20 years before the Royal Exhibition Building was erected.
See how the Library has evolved
Watch our video to see how the Melbourne Public Library has evolved since 1856 into today's State Library Victoria.
Ned Kelly's famous suit of armour was on display in the Velvet, Iron, Ashes exhibition in the Victoria Gallery, from 24 October 2019 to 15 July 2020.
But the armour is just one of the Library's many Kelly-related treasures. Items on display in The changing face of Victoria exhibition include the Jerilderie letter, in which Kelly's uniquely potent turn of phrase is evident, and the bushranger's death mask.
Meet the curator: Kate Bird
Kate Bird is an Exhibitions Curator at State Library Victoria. With a specific focus on The Changing Face of Victoria exhibition, she is interested in uncovering the stories of Victoria's past.
Explore our digitised collections based on historical themes, including the Port Phillip papers, preserving key records of early European settlement in Victoria; our Sands & McDougall directories and historic street directories; and selected records from the Coles Myer archive.
Discover the people and events that shaped Victoria's colonial history in our 'Colonisation' online gallery, including:
- objects from early European contact and settlement
- documents and illustrations by early colonists
- the establishment of the city of Melbourne.
Law & order
Explore our 'Law & order' online gallery to:
- discover stories from the history of the Melbourne Public Library (now State Library Victoria)
- learn about the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition of 1860–61
- meet the notorious Kelly Gang.
Revel in the splendour of our 'Marvellous Melbourne' online gallery to:
- meet entrepreneurs, detectives and public transport enthusiasts
- explore Melbourne's shopping culture and sporting history
- learn about the land speculation boom of the 1880s.
Victorians at war
Explore wartime photographs, letters and diaries from the Library's collections in our 'Victorians at War' online gallery.
Yesterday & today
Browse a fascinating array of images and objects that reflect aspects of 20th- and 21st-century life in Victoria in our ‘Yesterday & today' online gallery.
Georgiana McCrae's paintbox & easel
Take a guided look at Georgiana McCrae's portable paintbox and easel, as paper conservator Albertine Hamilton reveals the construction of the beautiful folding easel and the hidden compartment containing watercolours and painting implements, including a porcupine quill.