Capturing the dome – photographing a Melbourne icon

11 April 2013

Naomi Cass, Director, Centre for Contemporary Photography, will lead an expert panel as they discuss photographic representations of the State Library’s iconic domed reading room. Capturing the dome is the second in a series of free conversations celebrating the Library’s Dome Centenary.

Joining Naomi Cass are renowned architectural and aerial photographer John Gollings who works in the Asia Pacific region specialising in the documentation of cities old and new; Adrian Flint, the Library's Image Resources Team Leader and former in-house Library photographer; and accomplished artist Louise Forthun who has her abstract city-scapes represented in galleries across Australia.

This year, the State Library is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its domed reading room (now known as the La Trobe Reading Room). The Dome Centenary Conversations series of debates and talks are designed to reflect on the dome and what it has meant to artists, photographers, writers, musicians, architects and historians.

When the domed reading room opened in 1913 it was the largest building of its kind in the world. The height and scale of the dome in a city without skyscrapers was dramatic, and proved to be a welcome challenge for artists and photographers to capture it, both internally and externally.

The Library’s current exhibitionEnchanted dome: the Library and imagination, open until 14 July, features representations of the dome in art and literature from the 1950s to today and includes prints by Marco Luccio, paintings by Louise Forthun, cartoons by Oslo Davis and Barry Dickins, and photographs by John Gollings and Mark Strizic. Writers represented include Ray Lawler, Shane Maloney and Arnold Zable.
The third Dome Centenary Conversation titled, Melbourne 1913, is to be held in June. Author Robyn Annear and architectural historian Harriet Edquist, curator of the Free, secular and democratic: building the Public Library 1853–1913 exhibition, will place the opening of the Library’s dome into the cultural context of Melbourne circa 1913.

Event details
Capturing the dome
Tuesday 16 April, 6-7.30pm
Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library of Victoria
Free, bookings required

Melbourne 1913
Tuesday 25 June, 6pm–7.15pm
Queen’s Hall, State Library of Victoria
Free, bookings required

For bookings and event information:


Media inquiries

Matthew van Hasselt or Georgina Smart
State Library of Victoria, 03 8664 7263,
328 Swanston Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000