A partnership between the Victorian State Government and the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation is delivering a funding boost of $13 million to State Library Victoria and is set to reinvigorate an historic Melbourne precinct.
The John and Myriam Wylie Foundation has donated $8 million to reopen the Russell Street entrance and to thoroughly transform the eastern end of the Library with the creation of a new world-class exhibition gallery and state-of-the-art collaborative spaces, along with a vibrant café and retail area on Russell Street.
This donation is one of the largest in the State Library’s history and will be a major driver in achieving the aim of increasing the space available to the public by 40% over the next three years.
The new gallery, to be known as The Victoria Gallery, endowed by the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation, will focus on telling the state’s stories by showcasing the best of the Library’s collection along with items from other institutions and private collections.
The Victoria Gallery will use cutting-edge technology to create an immersive and interactive exhibition experience which will be a drawcard for Victorians and visitors to Melbourne.
The Victorian Government has also committed an additional $5 million to enhance and activate all entrances to the Library and the surrounding streetscape, which covers the entire city block. It will also increase access to Australia’s busiest public library with a new universally accessible entrance on La Trobe Street.
State Library Victoria CEO, Kate Torney said it was a wonderful outcome for all Victorians.
“The commitment from the Victorian Government and the extraordinary generosity of the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation is a commitment to every Victorian that they will have a State Library that meets their changing needs and offers an experience that is truly unique.
“The Victoria Gallery will set a new global benchmark in library exhibitions and, coupled with our transformed Russell Street entrance, will create a compelling new destination for Melbourne,” she said.
Library Board of Victoria President and John and Myriam Wylie Foundation Director, John Wylie, said their donation was “an investment in an outstanding public institution which will greatly boost its capacity to welcome, serve and inspire future generations of Victorians”.
“Myriam and I are proud to be associated with State Library Victoria. In our view it’s not just the greatest library in Australia but one of the greatest in the world,” he said.
“It’s not only one of the state’s most important cultural assets, it’s also a centrepiece of Victoria’s modern knowledge economy.”
“This transformational project will take the Library to another level and we’re proud to be supporting it in a substantial way,” he said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said:
“The Victoria Gallery will help bring to life the State Library’s many collections, drawing locals and tourists alike to one of our most treasured institutions.
“I welcome the generosity of the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation – it’s an extraordinary gift to the people of Victoria.”
Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said:
“Victoria is the creative state – where the full participation of everyone, everywhere, in every aspect of public life, is encouraged, supported and celebrated. Our Library will deliver this now and for generations to come.”
The Victoria Gallery, the Russell Street transformation and activation of the Library’s entrances is part of the Library’s Vision 2020 redevelopment announced last year, with construction due to commence in 2017.