Monday, November 13, 2017

Visiting State Library Victoria via 360° interactive tour

State Library Victoria is located in the heart of Melbourne, Australia. With more annual visitors than the British Library and the Library of Congress in Washington, it is one of the busiest libraries in the world. Collecting history since it first opened its doors in 1856: today the Library holds more than five million collection items, including books, prints and photographs, manuscripts, maps and artifacts. Australia’s oldest public library also digitizes its collections to make them easier to access no matter where you are in the world. From slides and negatives to posters and sheet music, they have made more than two million files freely available to search, view, and download in high resolution.”

Redbubble teamed up with Australia’s State Library Victoria to challenge artists to create designs inspired by classic works from the Library’s immense collections. It was a fun challenge that really fuelled my imagination.

After reading these lines at Redbubble site I got curious and head to State Library Victoria site to learn more about it. It’s a fantastic place! The library invites us to "explore a world of information and stories, and enjoy free tours, exhibitions, events and family fun". I would like to visit because I used to go to the local library often when growing up. The library in my town had an important role when I young. I read hundreds of books from there, for free. It was just marvelous.
The site has a 360° interactive tour that allows us to get inside and explore the spectacular buildings, the galleries and activity spaces. There's also a map that helps us to get the picture of this fantastic building.

Another thing I learned from the site is that they are holding an exhibition showcasing the history of book design, production, and illustration from the Middle Ages to today. What's in it? A lot of precious things! 

"Visitors can see rare medieval manuscripts and sacred texts, magnificent natural history and botanical illustration, - some of it was source for the challenge - and stunning modern artist books and fine press editions. Discover pioneering Australian classics, children’s books, graphic novels and comics, and cutting-edge graphic design.

From books that break the mould to books that changed the world, World of the book celebrates the unique place books have in our hearts and minds. 

The exhibition explores five themes:

Books and ideas ( Explore!!)

‘[T]he book is an extension of the eye …’
– Marshall McLuhan

The history of ideas is mirrored in the history of the book. Books have altered the course of history itself, through the dissemination of ideas that have changed how we think about the world and ourselves. In many cultures across different eras, books have played a highly symbolic and iconic role.

There was a time when it was thought that the world’s knowledge could be collected between the covers of a book. The information explosion of recent times now makes it impossible to contain the world’s knowledge within one library, let alone in one book, yet books continue to be a powerful means of informing and inspiring new generations.

Books and imagination ( Explore!!)

'For myth is at the beginning of literature, and also at its end.’
– Jorge Luis Borges

Books hold the world’s stories: from the earliest known myths and legends to postmodern fictions. They are also keys that unlock inner worlds. The greatest authors and texts act as literary milestones, signposts marking the collective journeys of the imagination.

Imagination begins at childhood. Our earliest experience of reading allows us to travel to new worlds, to inhabit the voices and lives of new characters. As adults, we never lose this sense of discovery, this capacity to journey to other places and times through books.

At a fundamental level, books facilitate empathy, allowing us to imagine ourselves as other than who we are.

Exploring the world ( Explore!!)

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.'
– TS Eliot

Books reflect our desire to know the world – to see it, to classify it and to make sense of it. As well as documenting the past, books have always recorded the new. From scientific discoveries to journeys to new lands, books enable novel ideas and information to be shared around the globe.

Before the age of jet travel and mass media, books played a crucial role in sharing information. Although books now share this space with television and the internet, they have not been superseded by them: the age of the book continues.

Art and nature ( Explore!!)

‘The flower painter fails if a work lacks beauty, the botanical artist fails if it lacks accuracy.'
– Wilfred Blunt and William Stearn

Botanical illustration unites the scientific with the artistic. Since ancient times, text and image have been used to record observations of nature. The Greek physician Dioscorides’ De materia medica (c 50–70 CE) was the first ‘herbal’, or manual of medicinal information relating to plants, and was a key botanical reference for over 1500 years.

With the Renaissance came the first printed herbals, followed over succeeding centuries by the works of the great botanical artists: Ehret, Redouté, Bauer. Even with today’s digital photography, botanical drawing remains the finest means of understanding and representing plant life.

Artists and books. ( Explore!!)

‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.'
– Aristotle

Books are valued not only for their content, but as objects of beauty and craft. Since the invention of the codex, artists in cultures around the world have been intimately involved in their production. They have determined the look and shape of books, from papermaking and illustration to design and binding.

Artists today continue to challenge and question the nature of books by working with them as art objects. At a time when digital forms of information dissemination are presenting alternatives, the book’s future is ensured by its nature as an ever-changing object to be admired, read, desired and owned.

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