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Historical Exhibitions in Adelaide

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There are many places in Adelaide that I call my true favourites: the Mortlock Wing in the State Library of South Australia, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Institute Building. Right now, the Institute Building and the State Library of South Australia have some great little exhibitions.

The Institute Building, on the corner of North Terrace and Kintore Avenue in the city, currently has a display from the State Archives as a celebration of the Archives centenary: "Professor Henderson's Department of Historical Records". Originally a concept of Professor George C. Henderson which came into fruition through the hard work of George Henry Pitt and Mabel Hardy, the South Australian Archives Department has now cracked 100 years and is celebrating with a small exhibition. Through this exhibition, one can get a glimpse of the type of records securely stored to preserve the state's history. Storyboards on the wall share some South Australian's encounter with the law, the founders of the Archives and a snippet of the sad treatment of Indigenous Australians. You can also search for ancestry information on an interactive touchscreen.

Up a small staircase from the Institute Building, you enter the State Library of South Australia with their latest exhibition on the Treasures Wall: "Heroes of the skies". This exhibition also celebrates a centenary of something we all now take for granted: flight. To commemorate the Great Air Race and the success of the Smith Brothers in 1919, the exhibition showcases the lives, the aeroplanes and the journeys of South Australia's pioneering airmen.

The Smith brothers, Ross and Keith for those who don't know, competed in and won the Great Air Race that started in London in November 1919 and finished in Darwin in December 1919. They achieved this in their Vickers Vimy bi-plane with their mates, Jim and Wally. Having a small capacity fuel tank meant stops along the journey were frequent and carefully followed the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Java Sea and finally the Timor Sea. It took less than 28 days. A great feat at the time.

Having begun their flight careers during World War I, part of the exhibition pays homage to the Smith Brother's efforts and that of their mates, Wally and Jim, and the sacrifices of their peers who lost their lives fighting for King and Country.

Entry for both exhibitions is free. Opening hours for "Professor Henderson's Department of Historical Records" is 10am to 5pm every day. It is closed on public holidays and will finish in December. Opening hours for "Heroes of the skies" vary so check the website. The last day of the exhibition is the 5th of April 2020.

Let's not stop the centenary fun here shall we. There are many more events celebrating the Ross Brothers and their mates, not to mention Epic Flight Centenary Trail. Different transportation is required for this particular journey, one that relies predominantly on wheels. Check out the Epic Flight Centenary website for more information on the trail (and other events) or pick up a brochure from the exhibition.

While you're at the Institute Building checking out the State Archives exhibition, it's also worth climbing the stairs nearer to the North Terrace entrance and seeing the Royal South Australian Society of Arts gallery space featuring works by South Australian artists, some of which you can buy. The gallery is open from 10.30am to 16.30pm Monday to Friday and from 13.00pm to 16.00pm on weekends. It is closed on public holidays. And yep, visiting this gallery is also free!


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Where: North Terrace &, Kintore Ave, Adelaide SA 5000
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