News & Media

First panes of glass installed In revamped library dome

Glass panels will return to the State Library’s famous dome as part of the building’s $200 million refurbishment, due for completion in 2005, Minister for Major Projects and Tourism, John Pandazopoulos, said today.
Mr Pandazopolous was at the library to inspect the first panels of glass to be installed in the Reading Room roof, which will allow sunlight in for the first time in 40 years.
“Returning glass to the dome is part of major renovation works costing $62 million that commenced in 1999. The Reading Room is expected to be open to the public again in 2003,” Mr Pandazopoulos said.
“The redevelopment will open new areas to the public and expand the library’s services. Exhibition galleries are also being created in the Domed Reading Room to display the Library’s collections, including Ned Kelly’s suit of armour and death mask,” he said.
The Domed Reading Room, which opened in 1913, was inspired by two of the world’s great libraries, the British Library and the Library of Congress.
The architect, Norman G Peebles, designed the octagonal building to provide accommodation for 500 readers. It consists of a basement, ground floor, first floor reading room and three gallery levels, which are being converted to exhibition spaces and study areas.
“With some 1.7 million visitors annually, the State Library is one of Melbourne’s major cultural and tourism icons. The Bracks Government is committed to returning it to its former glory,” Mr Pandazopoulos said.
“The refurbishment of the dome will restore one of Melbourne’s most significant heritage buildings, while the redevelopment will also bring library facilities first built in the 19th century, well and truly into the 21st century.”
Some 1,500 design and construction staff would be employed during the life of the project, he said.
The State Library’s redevelopment program began in 1990.