News & Media

Donation of $10m to bring life and light to State Library Victoria’s Queens Hall

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley was at State Library Victoria today to announce a $10 million donation from the Ian Potter Foundation, which will contribute to the refurbishment and reopening of the historic Queen’s Hall.

In honour of the donation – the largest ever received by the State Library – the 156-year old hall will be renamed the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall.

The Melbourne-based Ian Potter Foundation was established by Australian financier, businessman and philanthropist Sir Ian Potter (1902-1994). It is now one of Australia’s major philanthropic foundations and has a 50-year history of support for State Library Victoria.

The Queen’s Hall refurbishment is a key feature in the Library’s $83.1 million redevelopment. In the 2015-16 Victorian Budget, the Andrews Labor Government contributed $55.4m to the project, with the remaining funds to be raised by the State Library.

Queen’s Hall opened on Queen Victoria’s birthday in 1859. The hall and the foyer below it were part of the original Melbourne Public Library building. As the Library expanded, the hall was used by Museum Victoria and as an Arts, Music and Performing Arts Library. Since 2003 it has been closed to the public except for special events.

The project will highlight the heritage features of the hall, including revealing spectacular skylights, and return it to use as a public reading room and a reception space.

The full redevelopment project, which is due to begin construction in 2017, will include the restoration and reopening of the Russell Street entrance to the Library. The project will also establish new spaces for early learning, digital media, entrepreneurship and exhibitions, and an ‘e-Town Hall’ that will connect regional public libraries with the State Library.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley

‘The Ian Potter Foundation is one of Australia’s most passionate and prominent supporters of creative endeavour, research, education and community projects – and this act of generosity will touch on all of those areas.’

‘Together with funding from the Andrews Labor Government, this donation will see Queen’s Hall rejuvenated and returned to the people of Victoria after more than a decade. It will be a place for discovery and inspiration, and a key driver of our knowledge economy, for generations to come.’

Quotes attributable to Library Board of Victoria President John Wylie

‘We are immensely grateful for the generosity of the Ian Potter Foundation for supporting the Library in breathing new life into what will become the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall.’

‘This project will return the original reading room to its former glory and will respect the hall’s Victorian heritage features. We will expand the public space within the Library for our ever-growing number of students and visitors, and reopen the doors to one of the most beautiful buildings in Melbourne.’

‘This wonderful gift acknowledges and celebrates the history of this great institution, but also looks to its future.’