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The National Library hosts a program of events that highlight aspects of our collections. If you missed a talk or conference, you can listen to and read highlights here.

The National Library hosts a program of events that highlight aspects of our collections. If you missed a talk or conference, you can listen to and read highlights here.
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The National Library hosts a program of events that highlight aspects of our collections. If you missed a talk or conference, you can listen to and read highlights here.




Comets in Canberra



Fellowship Presentation

Perhaps the best-known Australian colonial castaway is Eliza Fraser who was shipwrecked in 1836 on K’gari-Fraser Island, where she spent time with local Indigenous peoples. Many early accounts present Fraser as the civilised captive of cruel and primitive savages. Less known are the many instances of castaways whose survival depended on the sustained assistance of Indigenous peoples, who treated them with care and kindness. This presentation interweaves some extraordinary stories with...


1968: Events that changed the world

1968. A year of protests, war, Hendrix and a missing Prime Minister. Curator Dr Guy Hansen introduces our new exhibition 1968: Changing Times, and looks at the highlights of that year—locally, nationally and internationally.


Perceptions of missionary failure

Join Dr Linda Zampol D'Ortia as she considers different understandings of missionary failure, analysing the tensions they created in the Jesuit mission in Japan from 1524 to 1639. Dr Zampol is an NLA Fellow in Japan Studies, supported by the HS Williams Trust


Capital Ideas:

The Commonwealth’s Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools (Gonski 2.0 Review) is a serious opportunity for a new nation-wide conversation on school education. It comes at a critical time. Australia’s educational performance is declining internationally, we face new challenges in preparing students for their future lives and jobs, and equity gaps are too wide. But this does not mean that the Commonwealth should have a much bigger role in schooling than it does today....


Bold Women in Print

Curator Dr Grace Blakeley-Carroll looks at the experiences of early twentieth-century Australian female writers Henry Handel Richardson, Miles Franklin and Christina Stead and the publishing industry, as revealed through a new display in the Treasures Gallery. Image: Stella Miles Franklin, 190-?, nla.obj-229628581


Hal Missingham's Fully Bound

On retiring from the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1971, Director Hal Missingham received an extraordinary gift: a bound volume containing contributions from over 200 Australian artists and cultural figures. Join Treasures Curator Nat Williams, Hal’s son Peter Missingham and publisher and curator Lou Klepac to explore this fascinating volume and celebrate the production of the new Beagle Press book Hal Missingham: Artist Author Photographer. A Treasures Gallery Access Program, supported...


Dramatising Taboos

In this creative presentation, Timothy Daly and actors will show how dormant historical material is turned into viable and exciting contemporary theatre. Timothy Daly is one of Australia’s most internationally-produced playwrights with a string of national and international productions to his credit and featuring leading companies and actors, including Geoffrey Rush in The Don’s Last Innings, Cate Blanchett in Kafka Dances, and Jacki Weaver in Derrida in Love. Kafka Dances has won over a...


Author Talk with Michael Leunig

Modern life can feel like an injury. Where do we turn for hope when all seems dark? It's times like these we need the consolation of art and ducks. Join us for an evening with Michael Leunig - cartoonist and philosopher - for a glimpse into his twentieth collection of cartoons Ducks for Dark Times. Explore the mind of one of Australia's most treasured artists and find the wisdom and resilience needed for anyone who is losing faith; who's becoming exhausted or fed up with the news, and for...


Author Talk with Alex Miller

For lovers of Australian fiction, Alex Miller’s novels are essential reading, with writing that reveals his wit, wisdom and keen observations of life’s complexities. In conversation with author and poet Adrian Caesar, Alex Miller will reflect on how love, and the struggle to live a creative life, inspired his exquisitely personal new novel, The Passage of Love. Alex has won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and is a two-time winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award. In association with...


Death or Liberty!

Dr Guy Hansen, Director of Exhibitions, explores the significance of a watercolour sketch that shows the clash between 200 rebel convicts and a contingent of infantry near present-day Rouse Hill on 5 March 1804. A Treasures Gallery Access Program, supported by National Library Patrons


Enlightening the Child

What were Chinese children reading about Australia and the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? Dr Shih-Wen (Sue) Chen uses the National Library of Australia’s rich collection of reading materials for children published by Protestant missionaries and Chinese reformers to discuss how texts and cultures were shared between Britain, America and China during a period of uncertainty and political unrest in Chinese history. Dr Shih-Wen (Sue) Chen is a National Library of...


Fellowship Presentation

Dr Michelle Aung Thin reveals how Gordon Luce’s Burmese collection is helping her imaginatively recreate the vanished world of the wealthy, cosmopolitan and colonial city of Rangoon for her new semi-autobiographical novel. Dr Aung Thin is the 2017 Creative Arts Fellow for Australian Writing, supported by the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust.


Author Talk with Michelle deKretser

In her new novel, Michelle de Kretser explores the art of fiction and how art can transform and sustain, as well as belittle and betray. Her meditations on time and loss make us laugh and also feel a little paranoid!


Author Talk with Noeline Brown

The sixties: a decade of safari suits and droopy moustaches? Living the 1960s guides you through the landscapes of 1960s Australia, from the smoke-filled bars and cafes to the pastel lounge rooms and boardrooms.


Fellowship Presentation

National Library Fellow in Australian Literature, author Dr Gabrielle Carey explores the inspiring and unique influence the Australian writer Ivan Southall had on a generation of young readers. In the 1960s and 70s Ivan Southall’s books for young adults sold in the hundreds of thousands and he remains significant in the imaginations of countless Australians today. But Southall was also an object of controversy, his novels criticised for being too dark and pessimistic. Southall argued that he...


Ray Mathew Lecture 2017

Novelist Kim Scott reveals how reclaiming Aboriginal language and story may offer a narrative of shared history and contribute to social transformation. The Ray Mathew Lecture was established in 2009 as a major annual event for the National Library of Australia. It is named in honour of the Australian poet and playwright, Ray Mathew (1929–2002), who left Australia in the late 1960s, never to return. Mathew spent most of the remainder of his life living in the New York apartment of his...


Dombrovskis: Journeys into the Wild

Former Australian Greens leader Dr Bob Brown and curator Matthew Jones offer an introduction to the Library's exhibition Dombrovskis: Journeys into the Wild. Peter Dombrovskis was one of the world’s foremost wilderness photographers. His powerful, reflective and deeply personal images of the unique Tasmania wilderness had a lasting impact, changing the way Australians think about their environment. The National Library has over 3,000 Dombrovskis transparencies in its collection, and has...