Last updated 12/06/2011


Policy statement                   

The National Library of Australia is the country's largest reference library. Our role is to ensure that documentary resources of national significance relating to Australia and the Australian people, as well as significant non-Australian library materials, are collected, preserved and made accessible either through the Library itself or through collaborative arrangements with other libraries and information providers.

The Library’s exhibiting role is mandated by the National Library Act 1960 Section 6 which requires the Library:

(b)  to make library material in the national collection available to such persons and institutions, and in such manner and subject to such conditions, as the Council determines with a view to the most advantageous use of that collection in the national interest;

The Library develops exhibitions and displays to enrich the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the collections of the National Library of Australia and of the role of libraries and their collections more generally. It programs exhibitions and displays to aid in the development of the Library as a major tourism destination and to increase visitation to, and usage of, the Library.  

Scope of Policy

This policy applies to public exhibitions and displays held onsite at the National Library of Australia.  It does not cover the public exhibition or display of Work/s outside of the National Library of Australia (this is covered by the National Library’s Travelling Exhibitions Policy or the Exhibitions Loans Policy).  Nor does it cover short term displays of collection material within the Library held in conjunction with internal or external events programmed at the Library.

Definitions

Audiences: The people who make up the Library’s public including exhibition visitors, researchers, readers, volunteers, , media, institutions, donors and sponsors

Display: A curated selection of collection items or facsimiles on public view in selected spaces across the Library other than the Treasures and Exhibitions Galleries.

Exhibition A larger curated selection of collection items or loan itemson public view in either the Treasures Gallery or the Exhibition Gallery.

Inward Loan: Is defined as the temporary bailment of Works from an external organisation or individual to the Library for the purpose of exhibition or display, where no transfer of ownership is involved.

Work/s: Is used to describe  collection material for exhibition including (but not limited to) books, manuscripts, paintings, photographs, prints and drawings, maps, posters, ephemera, realia (objects), serials and sheet music. Digital files, facsimiles, audio and video recordings and multimedia may also be considered Works within the scope of this policy.

Key roles and responsibilities

Director General - Chairs Exhibitions Committee meetings.
Director, Exhibitions - Provides oversight for the Exhibitions Program.
Exhibitions Committee - Assesses Exhibition Proposals and approves the inclusion of Exhibitions in the forward program.

Exhibitions Committee

The Exhibitions Committee meets at least three (3) times in each calendar year.  Additional meetings may be convened at the request of the Director-General.

The Exhibitions Committee is chaired by the Director-General.

The Exhibitions Committee shall be comprised of nominated staff representatives from (but not limited to) the following Branches of the Library: Exhibitions, Preservation, Security (Building Services), Special Collections, Publications, Communications & Marketing, Sponsorship & Development and Events & Education.

The Exhibitions Committee retains authority over the evaluation, selection and scheduling of Exhibitions and Displays at the Library. 

The Committee should ensure that adequate lead time for the development of exhibitions and displays is maintained and that Library exhibitions remain a priority for development.

The Exhibitions Committee must ensure that Exhibitions are regularly evaluated through visitor surveys or other means.

Temporary Exhibitions

Temporary Exhibitions are developed specifically for the Exhibition Gallery located on the ground floor of the National Library building adjacent to the Treasures Gallery and the Main Reading Room.  Temporary Exhibitions may be developed in-house or in collaboration with other institutions or individuals; or the Library may buy-in a Temporary Exhibition from an external provider.

Principles

Temporary Exhibitions should:

  • enhance access to the collections and services of the Library;
  • promote a greater understanding of Australian life and culture for audiences;
  • attract new audiences to the Library and be supported by an appropriate range of of public programs;
  • promote research and interpretation of the Library’s collections;
  • contribute to the public awareness of the Library as a significant national cultural institution;
  • enhance public awareness of the collecting and access roles of libraries generally;
  • and provide, where possible, opportunities for audiences to access significant Works and Exhibitions from other institutions both nationally and internationally.

Temporary Exhibition Proposals

The Exhibitions Committee must receive a written Exhibition Proposal for each Exhibition or Display submitted for consideration.

Exhibitions and Displays will only be included on the Forward Program after they have been approved by the Exhibitions Committee.

A form for the submission of an exhibition proposal for consideration by the Exhibitions Committee can be obtained by email - exhibitions@nla.gov.au or via the Library website www.nla.gov.au/exhibitions 

Proposals submitted to the Library’s Exhibitions Committee will be evaluated by the Committee based on (but not limited to) the following criteria:

  • the relevance of the Exhibition to the Library’s strategic directions, collections and resources;
  • the historical and educational significance of the Exhibition;
  • the Exhibition’s appeal to audiences and its ability to attract and develop new audiences for the Library;
  • the quality of the proposal, exhibition content, artistic merit and originality;
  • the Exhibition’s suitability to, and the availability of the Exhibition Gallery;
  • the opportunities for related public programs including education programs and events;
  • a connection to community events, significant anniversaries or commemorations.

Proposals for Exhibitions that have commercial or political purposes or are staged for the purposes of fundraising will not be considered by the Committee.

The Library will not accept proposals for Exhibitions that include the sale of works.

Treasures Gallery

The Treasures Gallery is located on the ground floor of the National Library building adjacent to the Exhibition Gallery and Main Reading Room.  The Treasures Gallery provides a permanent space for the Library to display iconic, rare and interesting items from its extensive collections.

Principles

Treasures Gallery exhibitions should:

  • enhance access to the collections and services of the Library;
  • promote a greater understanding of Australian life and culture for audiences;
  • attract new audiences to the Library;
  • promote research and interpretation of the Library’s collections;
  • contribute to the public awareness of the Library as a significant national cultural institution;
  • enhance public awareness of the collecting and access roles of libraries generally;
  • provide an opportunity for the Library to display nationally and internationally significant Works from the collections;
  • and provide an opportunity for the Library to acknowledge significant anniversaries and/or commemorate significant events if timing and resources permit.

Treasures Gallery exhibitions

Works on display in the Treasures Gallery will be primarily drawn from the Library’s collections.

Inward Loan of Works may be considered for display in the Treasures Gallery provided such works add context and significance to Works on display from the Library’s collections.

Works in the Treasures Gallery will be changed over or page-turned on a regular basis to ensure adherence with Preservation guidelines and to accommodate any other Loan or Exhibition commitments for the Works.

The Library may accept proposals for Displays in the Treasures Gallery from external institutions or individuals if timing and resources permit.

Library Displays administered by the Exhibitions Branch

The Exhibitions Branch services a number of Display spaces within the Library building including (but not limited to) the fourth floor area adjacent to the Conference Room, the Council Room, the Australian Voices audiovisual presentation and the showcase in the central foyer.

Principles

Displays in these areas should:

  • promote access to the collections and services of the Library;
  • promote a greater understanding of the work of the Library;
  • promote the Library’s significant new acquisitions;
  • and contribute towards further promotion and interpretation of the Library’s collections and activities including (but not limited to) the Oral History collections, the Library’s born digital collections and its digital preservation initiatives.

Library displays

Displays in these spaces will be curated from the Library’s collections.

Displays will be changed over on a regular basis as advised by the Exhibitions Committee taking account of available timing and resources.

The Exhibitions Branch will select and propose Displays for these spaces. 

The selected Displays will be endorsed by the Exhibitions Committee at their regular meetings.