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Stories from our exhibitions

Current exhibitions Dead Central ▪ Quick March! The Children of World War I ▪ Generations ▪ Flash Mob

Flash mob

Photographs from the Deadly Awards by Jamie James.

Dead Central: the Devonshire Street cemetery

Established in 1820, this cemetery became the final resting place for many Sydney-siders throughout the 19th century. The land was finally cleared in 1901 to make way for Sydney's new Central Station.

Quick march! The children of World War I

To mark the centenary of the peace year, 1919, we take an intimate look at the lives of children during the ‘war to end all wars’.

Woollen comforts from home

It is estimated that over one million pairs of socks were knitted by Australian women and children during the war. 

Paintings from the Collection More than 300 original artworks from the Library’s unique collection of landscape and portrait paintings on permanent public display.

Conrad Martens and George Edwards Peacock: Sydney artists

Artists have always been attracted to the natural beauty of Sydney Harbour and its foreshores.

Convict artists in the time of Governor Macquarie

Many used their art to record and interpret the landscape and people of the early settlement.

Arresting gaze

A compelling portrait of a young colonial woman has been given new life. 

‘A degree of neatness & regularity’: part of the 10 Works in Focus series

Sydney — Capital New South Wales was painted around 1800 — its solid buildings and carefully laid out gardens refute the idea that it was a cesspit of depravity at a time when the city was associated with 'the awful depravity of human nature'.

An unknown warrior: mysterious portrait of an unknown, handsome young Aboriginal man

This mysterious portrait of an unknown, handsome young Aboriginal man is believed to have belonged to Governor Lachlan Macquarie, described as ‘One of the NSW Aborigines befriended by Governor Macquarie’. Part of the 10 Works in Focus series.

Americans on campus: part of the 10 Works in Focus series

Sydney Teacher’s College was co-located on the grounds of Sydney University where American Military Police units were billeted, describing the impact of the Americans on campus. Part of the 10 Works in Focus series.

A hint of eccentricity: a beautifully rendered, somewhat playful portrait

One of Australia’s most influential artists, George Washington Lambert (1873–1930), as part of the 10 Works in Focus series.

AMAZE Gallery An ever-changing display of remarkable items from the Library’s collection.

The Treaty of Waitangi, 1840

On 6 February 1840, after discussion with chiefs on the lawns of the British Resident’s house in Waitangi, some 45 chiefs signed a treaty of cession, now known as the Treaty of Waitangi.

Miles Franklin

‘Heaven could be no more magical and mystical than unspoiled Australia'- the brilliant career of Miles Franklin.

Arthur Moon, prisoner of war, 1943

Records of life in a Japanese POW camp, buried in 1943.

Past exhibitions UNESCO Six ▪ The Magic Pudding: Celebrating 100 years ▪ Memories on Glass: The Macpherson family collection

Memories on glass: extraordinary images of late 19th and early 20th century Sydney

In the days before digital and film photography, images were often taken on glass. But from the 1880s, development of ready-to-use 'dry plate' negatives and simpler cameras saw the rise of amateur photography.

The Holtermann Collection: photographic documentation of goldfields life in Australia

In 1951, a hoard of 3,500 glass plate negatives from the nineteenth century was discovered in a garden shed in Chatswood.

Henry Beaufoy Merlin: Australian showman and photographer

In 1951 one of Australia’s most significant collections of nineteenth-century photographs was found in a garden shed in Chatswood, Sydney.

Reconstructing the Holtermann: the world's largest collodion glass-plate negatives

What do you do when one of the world’s largest wet-plate glass negatives, weighing over 30 kilos, smashes into hundreds of pieces?

The Magic Pudding

In October 1918 Angus & Robertson published what would become one of Australia’s best known children’s stories: The Magic Pudding.

Armistice and peace: 'now that the war is over we realise what we’ve been through'

‘The Armistice – agreeing to cease hostilities’ was signed between Germany, France and Britain at 5 am on the morning of 11 November.

Internee collections: diaries of ‘enemy aliens’

During the First World War nearly 7000 ‘enemy aliens’, mainly of German and Austro-Hungarian origin, were interned in camps in Australia. The Library’s collection of papers of ‘enemy aliens’ interned in Australia during WW1 contains around 40 handwritten diaries written by internees.

Writing at Gallipoli

First hand accounts of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

World War I diaries

The Library's collection of World War I diaries offers a glimpse into the life of Australians at war. 

Wesley Choat, prisoner of war

Wesley Choat and his two brothers enlisted in 1915.

George Bell, prisoner of war

George Bell was a bank officer from Port Headland, Western Australia.

Dorothea Mackellar's My Country

"I love a sunburnt country": Learn the history of one of Australia's best loved poems.