$8 million gallery gift

An $8 million donation from the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation is enabling the State Library of Victoria to build a new gallery.

With five million items in its archives, the State Library can only display 3 per cent of its content at a time. State Library CEO Kate Torney promised the Victoria Gallery will showcase only the best of Victoria’s history.

“The donation from the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation is extraordinary and incredibly generous to Victorian’s now and for the generations to come,” she said. “The Victoria Gallery is an opportunity to display the best of the best of our items and to really tell their stories”.

Items on display will include pieces of CBD history such as photographs of Flinders St railway yards from around 1917.

The donation will also go towards reopening the Library’s Russell St entrance which has been closed for 15 years.

This end of the building will also be transformed into a brand new technology hub, including an entrepreneurs’ space where aspiring business men and women will have access to the technology they need to get their ideas off the ground, a children’s library to cater for the 300 children and carers that attend the library’s weekly reading sessions and a youth space for the library’s growing under 30 population.

“It’s about recognising what the library is now,” Ms Torney said. “It’s a place of connectivity. We want to create both a social and a knowledge hub.”

Library Board of Victoria president and John and Myriam Wylie Foundation director John Wylie is proud of the library now, but is excited for its future too.

“In our view, the State Library of Victoria is not just the greatest library in Australia but one of the greatest in the world,” he said.

“This transformational project will take the library to another level and we’re proud to be supporting it in a substantial way.”

An extra $5 million has been donated by the State Government and will be used to upgrade all three entry points as well as the surrounding streetscape.

The Victoria Gallery and reopening of the Russell St doors are part of the library’s $88.1 million Vision 2020 project.

Announced in 2015, construction on the project is due to start mid-year and will be completed by 2020. Ms Torney said the current discussions on the best way to keep the library open during construction were the final step before building begins.

The State Government is investing $60.4 million into the library’s redevelopment, leaving the remaining $27.7 million to be raised by the library through fundraising and donations.

The biggest donation received was $10 million from the Ian Potter Foundation. The generous foundation will see the restoration of the iconic Queens Hall. The project will honour Sir Ian Potter by renaming the room the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall.

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