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Cowen Gallery

The softly lit Cowen Gallery is part art exhibition space, part information hub.

Part of the Library's Gateway Zone, it's where you can ask for assistance from the staffed Gateway service point. You can also find information by browsing one of the self-service points.

The gallery houses a permanent exhibition of selected artworks from the Library's Pictures Collection. The current selection includes portraits and landscapes, and historical and contemporary works to create connections and tell new stories.

The northern end of the room, framed by William Strutt’s Black Thursday (1864) and Juan Davila's Churchill National Park (2009), includes works about regional Victoria and the landscape. The southern end of the room, featuring Reinhold Hofmann’s Melbourne 1836  (c 1886) and Jan Senbergs' Melbourne 1998–99, explores the city and urbanisation.

The Cowen Gallery is flanked by the Rotundas, and connects to the Redmond Barry Reading Room.

About the Cowen Gallery

Formerly known as the Stawell Gallery, the Cowen Gallery was constructed in 1892 for the National Gallery of Victoria, which occupied the building until 1968. The National Museum also used the space for exhibits over the years. It was renamed the Cowen Gallery in 2003.


Daily 10am–6pm


  • Library staff
  • self-service points
  • art exhibition
  • seating
  • lift access from the foyer