State Library of New South Wales - review by Rusty Compass
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State Library of New South Wales

| 16 Jun 2021
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State Library of New South Wales
Address: 1 Shakespeare Place, Sydney - near the Botanical Gardens and Martin Place in the centre of the city.
16 Jun 2021

The State Library of New South Wales is the oldest library in Australia and another must-see Sydney stop for those interested in history, architecture and art. It's a beautiful library too, if you want to sit down and read in a space with a grand and rarified ambience.

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There are many good reasons to allow a few hours to explore the State Library of New South Wales (aka. Mitchell Library). It's a magnificent old library space - great for a chilled read. It happens to also be home to a superb gallery of art from the colonial period and later, a small but fascinating Map Room (newly opened), a curious collection of random colonial memorabilia and interesting special exhibitions.

Map Rooms - State Library of New South Wales, Sydney
Photo: Mark Bowyer Map Rooms - State Library of New South Wales, Sydney
Portraits of big name colonials - State Library of New South Wales, Sydney
Photo: Mark Bowyer Portraits of big name colonials - State Library of New South Wales, Sydney 

You’ll find wonderful examples of colonial landscapes and records of the development of the British colony. Some of the most well-known portraits of colonial bigwigs such as Captain Arthur Phillip, Governor Lachlan Macquarie, and “rum rebel” and generally unpleasant chap, John Macarthur, are also on display. Macarthur's impressive wife Elizabeth’s portrait is also in the collection.

The main building opened in 1910 and was designed by colonial architect Walter Liberty Vernon. He also designed the Art Gallery of New South Wales and other notable structures around the city.

The State Library is free and located in the heart of the city opposite the Botanical Gardens.

For our other gallery tips, check out our listing here.
Check out our museum recommendations here.

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Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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