National Library of Australia


National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries

A landmark exhibition that tells a rich and remarkable story about our history, our nation, our treasures ... and our libraries.

National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries brings together, for the first time, more than 170 extraordinary items that have shaped our nation. Drawn from the magnificent collections of Australia’s National, State and Territory libraries, the exhibition contains a diverse range of manuscripts, maps, drawings, paintings and objects—from the everyday to the exotic—all linked to Australia.

National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries includes familiar icons such as Cook’s Endeavour Journal, Ned Kelly’s helmet and Donald Bradman’s favourite bat. Others may be less well known, such as the heartbreaking story of Mary Watson, who perished with her baby off a deserted Queensland island, or the diary of Shane Gould, written as a teenager during her record-breaking swims at the tragic Munich Olympics.

Spanning the earliest European depiction of the Southern Cross drawn in the 16th century, through our convict and colonial era, two world wars, recent innovations and our constant obsessions with sport, food and wine, it gives fresh insight into the diversity and breadth of our history and what it means to be Australian. You can also see a Musical Treasures trail and a pictures Treasures Trail for some of these and other treasures. A checklist of the exhibition is available.

This exhibition is an initiative of the Council of Australian State Libraries (CASL) and has been managed by the National Library of Australia. It will tour to every state and territory capital city from December 3 2005 to August 2007.

We hope that you enjoy this exhibition both online and when the exhibition is at your capital city.

Tour Details

The National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries was on exhibition at the National Library of Australia from 3 December 2005 to 2006. After this date, National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries tours the whole of Australia, with exhibitions in every state and territory capital city. Further information about venues and dates is available in Tour Details.

Treasures from the World’s Great Libraries

The National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries follows on the success and interest generated by an earlier exhibition, Treasures from the World’s Great Libraries, which was shown at the National Library, Canberra from 7 December 2001 to 24 February 2002. More information about this exhibition is available from the Treasures from the World’s Great Libraries website.

Treasures Exhibitions

Tim Bonyhady, author of this introductory essay, is an art historian and lawyer whose books include Images in Opposition: Australian Landscape Painting 1801-1890, Burke and Wills: From Melbourne to Myth and the prize-winning The Colonial Earth. He is the Director of the Australian National University’s Australian Centre for Environmental Law.

Tour Details

State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston Street
10 March — 7 May 2006
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
40 Macquarie Street
26 May — 23 July 2006
State Library of New South Wales
Macquarie Street
26 August — 22 October 2006
State Library of Queensland
25 November 2006 — 7 January 2007
State Library of South Australia
Flinders University Art Gallery
North Terrace
25 January — 25 March 2007
Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
19 Conacher Street
Bullocky Point
14 April — 11 June 2007
Western Australian Museum
Perth Cultural Centre
James St
30 June — 26 August 2007