Home > Visit > Our magnificent spaces > The Ian Potter Queen's Hall

The Ian Potter Queen's Hall

The Ian Potter Queen's Hall is the jewel in the Library's stellar collection of unique heritage spaces.

Reached by a grand marble staircase, lined with soaring columns and lit by chandeliers and natural light, the impressive hall is part of the Library's Swanston Street Welcome Zone.

Natural light flows through the ornate, filigree-patterned original skylights (originally designed to extend reading hours before gas lighting was installed). The 19th-century decorative scheme was the first of its kind in Melbourne, and before the most recent renovation was hidden by layers of paint.

By day, The Ian Potter Queen's Hall functions as a reading room and houses the Library's Australian literature, poetry, drama and young adult fiction browsing collections. The Library's significant chess and bridge collections are housed on the hall's mezzanine level.

By night, the reading room transforms into a special event space, taking full advantage of its historic setting.

About The Ian Potter Queen's Hall

The Ian Potter Queen's Hall was reopened in December 2019 as part of the Library's Vision 2020 redevelopment project. The Ian Potter Foundation was the lead philanthropic donor for the restoration through a $10 million donation from the Foundation.

The central portion of Ian Potter Queen's Hall opened in 1856 as the Library's original reading room. Named in honour of Queen Victoria, the complete space reopened on her birthday (24 May) in 1859 when the Library's south wing was added. From 1915 to the 1970s, Queen's Hall was home to the Industrial and Technological Museum. The grand space hosted the Library's Art, Music and Performing Arts Library from 1975 until 2003.

For almost 20 years, the hall's beauty could only be imagined, as it was closed to the public from 2003 to 2019.

Hours

Daily 10am–5pm

Facilities

  • Library staff
  • volunteer greeters
  • self-service point
  • lift & stair access from the foyer
  • seating for 200+