State Library Victoria redevelopment reaches halfway mark

SLV Russell StreetState Library Victoria’s historic Russell Street entrance has reopened after being closed for more than a decade – signalling the halfway point of the Vision 2020 redevelopment.

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley officially opened the first of the redeveloped public spaces – including two new reading rooms set in stunning heritage galleries, a dedicated new event space supported by a full production kitchen, and a vibrant new lounge and meeting space.

“This visionary project will ensure our State Library continues to be a welcoming and inspiring place for all Victorians, as it has been for the past 162 years,” said Minister Foley. “State Library Victoria is responding to the needs of the community by opening up more of this beautiful, iconic building to the public – providing additional reading rooms, public spaces and function capacity.”

“We’re now at the halfway point of this landmark project and this is our first look at the stunning transformation of State Library Victoria.”

Formerly housing the Museum of Victoria from 1906 to 1997 and the NGV from 1999 to 2002, the redeveloped library spaces are now accessed by two new entrances – the historic Russell Street entrance and a new accessible entrance on La Trobe Street. These two new entrances are the main entry points for library visitors.

The redevelopment has also seen the expansion of Readings bookshop, with a 60 per cent larger store and the installation of a large-scale original artwork by Melbourne artist Tai Snaith. The Swanston Street entrance is now temporarily closed for construction and will reopen in spring 2019 when the redevelopment is complete.

The design for Vision 2020 was led by multi award-winning Australasian firm Architectus, and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects – one of Scandinavia’s leading architectural practices. The $88.1 million project is funded by $60.4 million from the Labor Government, with the remainder raised through generous philanthropic support.

When this ambitious project is complete, public space at the library will increase by 40 per cent and seating by almost 70 per cent. Iconic heritage spaces including Ian Potter Queens Hall will also return to public use. State Library Victoria is Australia’s oldest and most visited public library, welcoming around two million visitors each year.

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Image: Russell Street Entrance – courtesy of State Library Victoria