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State Library of Victoria - Front Lawn Sculptures

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by Happy Mom (subscribe)
I am a world traveller & a mom of two, (8 & 6). I love to meet people, and am fascinated that there are 7 billion stories out there to be explored. I think Melbourne is the most happening city to live in with all the fun activities around town.
Published September 18th 2013
Sculptures preserve bits of history
The State Library of Victoria is an iconic landmark in the City of Melbourne and its architectural significance is self-evident for all onlookers as they stand before the awe-inspiring building with the Greco-Roman styled columns creating a beautiful façade. All features of the building create an innate desire to enter the library to discover the wonders and adventures that might lie inside. However, before setting a single step inside, it would be more than worthwhile to explore the lawn of this grand library where stand many significant sculptures.

The Facade of The State Library of Victoria as seen standing on Swanston Street


The sculpture that occupies centre stage is that of Mr. Redmond Barry (1813 - 1880), who served as a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. He was instrumental in the foundation of the State Library of Victoria (foundation stone laid in 1854), and he was President of the trustees of the State Library. A reading room in the library is named after Redmond Barry for his many worthy contributions. This sculpture was unveiled on 23 August 1887, and was modelled by James Gilbert and completed by Percival Ball after Gilbert's death in 1885.

Statue of Redmond Barry
Stands tall as you walk up the steps towards the library


As you walk up the steps, two beautiful sculptures lie on each side. The one on the right is that of Joan of Arc or Jeanne d'Arc, as she is known in English and French respectively. Valiantly riding her horse, holding high a flag, this was made by the French sculptor, Emmanuel Frémiet, who was famous for making equestrian sculptures, and was placed in its current location in 1907.

Jeanne d'Arc by E. Fremiet


On the left is a magnificent sculpture called "St. George and the Dragon" sculpted by the famous Austrian Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, It was purchased in 1888, and placed in its current location in 1907.

St. George and the Dragon


An almost life-size statue of Charles La Trobe, the first lieutenant-governor of the State of Victoria, and one of the founders of the State Library, stands in the left forecourt of the library. This statue was made by Peter Corlett OAM and unveiled on 21 November 2006.

Life-size Statue of La Trobe depicted as reading the proclamation


There are two fantastical sculptures from the Scholastic Dromkeen Children's Literature Collection. "The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek" was sculpted by Ron Brooks and "Mr Lizard and Gumnut Baby" was sculpted by Smiley Williams. Both were installed in the library on 17 October 2012.

The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek
Located on the Southern side of the forecourt


Mr Lizard and Gumnut Baby
Located on the Northern side of the forecourt


The Architectural Fragment by Petrus Spronk is a sculpture that lies on Swanston Street, symbolising the downfall of civilisation, past and present. It was installed on the pavement on 12 January 1993.

The Architectural Fragment


There is one sculpture that I could not take the picture of: The "James Joyce Seat of Learning", designed by Rick Dalmau of Dalmau Designs. It is installed in the Southern forecourt and is the second of its kind (first is in Malaysia). It was unveiled on 26 August 2004. The chair incorporates a brick from James Joyce's house in Ireland.

Even the lamp posts placed on the steps are a piece of art.

Lamp Post


The State Library of Victoria is a must-see landmark in Melbourne, and the tour begins in the garden. The sculptures beckon to be appreciated, for their beauty, their age, and just the fact that they create windows of glimpses into the local and world history.
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Why? Appreciate the Sculptures
When: At your own leisure
Where: Lawns and Forecourt of the State Library of Victoria
Cost: FREE
Your Comment
That's a lot of sculptures for one place. They all look fantastic, but I like Joan of Arc' best.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12388) 2099 days ago
This is one of Melbourne's great places. Inside s wonderful as well. Thanks for sharing.
by Robj. (score: 0|9) 2098 days ago
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