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The Ashes Urn lands at State Library Victoria

Media release

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Tuesday 26 November 2019


From today, cricket fans and history buffs will have the rare chance to see the original Ashes Urn on display in State Library Victoria’s brand new free exhibition, Velvet, Iron, Ashes.

The iconic Ashes Urn is on exclusive loan from Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), visiting Australia for only the third time in 137 years, and for the first time in more than a decade.

The Ashes Urn now sits alongside Ned Kelly’s armour and more than 200 other items in Velvet, Iron, Ashes, the inaugural exhibition in the Library’s new world-class gallery space, Victoria Gallery.

The interactive exhibition explores the surprising connections between some of Victoria’s greatest stories, including the birth of the Ashes series – from a mock funeral notice, a precious perfume jar and a family cricket match in Sunbury. Visitors will learn how the Ashes Urn is connected to Janet Lady Clarke, Ned Kelly, Yallourn power station, and even Nappie Wash.

State Library Victoria CEO, Kate Torney, said she was excited that Australians will get to see the Ashes Urn up close in what is a major coup for the Library.

“We’re thrilled that visitors will get to see the original Urn, which rarely leaves its home at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, here at the Library. The history of the Urn is woven into the history of our state and visitors will discover the true origins of the Ashes series in our wonderful new exhibition. Thanks to the generous support of MCC, the Urn is set to be a summer highlight of Velvet, Iron, Ashes,” Ms Torney said.

Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, said: “This is a special day for cricket lovers, who have the rare opportunity to see the Ashes Urn on display in Australia.

“The Urn is one of the greatest symbols in sporting history, and it’s now landed here at State Library Victoria for all Victorians to enjoy as part of a fantastic new and free exhibition.”

MCC Curator of Collections, Neil Robinson, said: “The captivating story behind the Ashes Urn is perfectly fitting to be part of the Velvet, Iron, Ashes exhibition. MCC are very pleased with the opportunity to share the intriguing history of one of cricket’s biggest rivalries.”

Cricket Australia CEO, Kevin Roberts, said: “With our Australian cricket season underway, we’re reminded of this year’s Ashes series in the UK, and we’re incredibly proud of Justin Langer, Tim Paine and the team for their performance.

“To have the Ashes Urn physically come out to Australia for just the third time is fantastic and will give our fans a great opportunity to experience it up close and learn about its rich history in State Library Victoria’s new exhibition, Velvet, Iron, Ashes.

“The Library is a special and historic part of the city of Melbourne, I couldn’t think of a better place for the Ashes Urn to be displayed while it’s here in Australia,” Mr Roberts said.

The Ashes Urn will be on display in Velvet, Iron, Ashes from 26 November 2019 until 23 February 2020.

About Marylebone Cricket Club
Outside of the State Library Victoria’s exhibition, the Ashes Urn is on permanent display in the MCC Museum and can be viewed as part of a tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. For further information or to book a tour, visit: www.lords.org/tours

About Victoria Gallery
Victoria Gallery, endowed by the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation, is a brand new world-class exhibition space at State Library Victoria. It has been designed by multi-award winning Australasian firm, Architectus and one of Scandinavia’s most recognised architectural practices, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. Victoria Gallery occupies a 500-square-metre grand heritage space that originally opened in 1892 as the home of National Gallery of Victoria (until 1968). It subsequently housed Melbourne Museum’s ethnographic collection (until 1998–99) and then served as a workspace for librarians. Now, the original architecture has been carefully restored to create a home for the Library's great treasures, telling the stories of the state of Victoria over the past 180 years. It opens as part of the Library's Vision 2020 redevelopment, an ambitious project that will transform the Library's incomparable heritage spaces, creating destinations for myriad purposes and enabling the Library to offer a range of new services.