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State Library Victoria’s historic Russell Street entrance opened last Friday 21 September after being closed for more than a decade – signalling the halfway point of the Vision 2020 redevelopment, backed by the Victorian Government.

The first of the redeveloped public spaces have been officially opened, 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.

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.

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.

The two new entrances are the main entry points for library visitors. The Swanston Street entrance is 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.

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. The $88.1 million project is funded by $60.4 million from the Victorian Government, with the remainder raised through generous philanthropic support.

State Library Victoria is Australia’s oldest and most visited public library, welcoming around two million visitors each year.

Find out more about the transformation of the State Library and its services.

Updated on 26 May 2023