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State Library of NSW secures $15 million in private donations for new world‐class galleries

State Library of NSW secures $15 million in private donations for new world‐class galleries
February 1, 2017

The State Library of NSW has announced the creation of new “world‐class” public galleries and a premier learning space as a result of securing over $15 million in private funding.

Set to open in the Library’s historic Mitchell building in early 2018, the redeveloped galleries, to be named the new Michael Crouch Galleries, will stretch across the first floor of the Mitchell building, doubling the library's exhibition space.

The learning centre will be named after publisher John B. Fairfax.

Fairfax publishing and industrialist Michael Crouch are two of the major donors to the project which will see the completion of a major component of the Library’s master plan which aims to transform the 106-year-old Sydney landmark into a "global cultural destination".

Announcing the funding, Library Council of NSW President George Souris stated “guided by our master plan, we’re renewing the iconic Mitchell building and activating its heritage spaces to ensure all visitors have the opportunity to access and enjoy the much‐loved Sydney landmark and its extraordinary cultural collection.”

Acting NSW State Librarian and Chief Executive, Lucy Milne explained “the Michael Crouch Galleries will be a major attraction for local and international visitors looking for a unique cultural experience that they are unlikely to find anywhere else in Sydney.

“The galleries will offer inspiring physical and digital experiences which bring to life the compelling stories and diverse voices within the Library’s collection of six million items.”

The galleries will also showcase local and international collections through a changing kaleidoscope of exhibitions.

The Library’s major galleries project incorporates the John B Fairfax Learning Centre which will provide an engaging, digitally rich, hands on learning environment for school students, teachers and families.

Over 90,000 pre‐schoolers to lifelong learners, as well as 56% of schools in NSW, have participated in learning programs offered by the State Library onsite and in the community since 2009.

Milne added “the John B Fairfax Learning Centre will also include an informal family space, and will deliver even greater educational and learning opportunities to contribute to our state and nation’s knowledge and skills through its innovative programming.”

The State Library announced its master plan, developed in collaboration with HASSELL, in June 2016. The Library has been working closely with the Heritage Council of NSW and expert heritage consultants to ensure the Mitchell building’s heritage features are preserved and restored.

The State Library of holds more than six million items, valued at $3.15 billion, including 100,000 paintings, 1.5 million photographs, 13 kilometres of manuscripts, 2.5 million books and more than 24,000 maps.

Currently, the Library has room to exhibit less than 1% of its vast collection at any given time.

As part of the master plan, the NSW government has provided $4.8 million to improve access to the Mitchell wing of the library, and restore the original entrance facing Shakespeare Place and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The master plan also proposes to build a bar and function centre on its roof, which requires a change in the permitted height limit of the building.

Commenting on the impact of the redevelopement, State Library Foundation's joint Chair Kim Williams, concluded “this is a place of the most amazing, rich diversity that is about Sydney, NSW, Australia and the South Pacific in addition to the broad Western canon of knowledge.

"We'll see the dimensions of the collection being better known to the people and also making them available as part of the experience of Sydney," said the State Library Foundation's chairman Kim Williams.

Images: An artist impression of the new galleries created as part of the $15 million makeover of the State Library of NSW (top), the Mitchell Library Reading Room (middle) and the Library's main entrance (below). 






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