Government MinistersState Library of South Australia

Current exhibition

A theatre inside the book

Paper engineering from the collections of the State Library of South Australia

On display from 14 November 2015 to 27 March 2016

Noahs ark 2
'Noah's Ark' Vojtech Kubasta, 196-?, Children's Literature Research Collection, State Library of South Australia

This exhibition explores the beginnings of moveable books in academia, the history of children's pop-up books, and the use of the moveable format across a multitude of subjects and genres including old story-time favourites, Christmas, sport, exploration, science and music.

Amongst these intriguing pieces you will find a moveable handmade Valentine's card made for bereaved parents, a rare Don Bradman batting-action 'Flicker' book and a record album cover with the band members as pop-up characters.

Other pieces in this display have been drawn from the Children's Literature Research Collection (CLRC) which is one of the State Library's most significant heritage collections. The CLRC contains a wealth of children's literature, toys, games and ephemera, some from prominent South Australian families.

Our feature artist is renowned Czech illustrator and paper engineer Vojtech Kubasta (1914 - 1992). He began his career as an architect in Prague though he soon turned his illustrating skills to creating advertisements.  He ultimately focused on creating children's pop-up books for the State printer Artia, and later secretly for Walt Disney. His signature pieces are large, brightly coloured tri-fold books with the story stapled into the centre. The great surprise is at the end, when the back cover is folded out to reveal the gloriously vibrant pop-up.

When reflecting upon his career, Kubasta said he had wanted to 'create for children a small theatre inside the book'[i] ensuring that children could interact with the story and use their imagination to make the story real.

School Holiday Activities

A book within a book
A special event for children aged between 5 to 12, running from Monday to Friday 11 to 15 January with two sessions daily.

Watch exhibition pieces in motion

View this youtube video showing a selection of the pieces from the exhibition in motion.


[i] 1. Král, Zdenek, 'Magical World Made of Paper' (Kouzelnz svety papíru), Ahoj na sobotu, June 1988

Bay A: A gift from Switzerland
Bay A: A gift from Switzerland
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Bay B: Pop-up discovery
Bay B: Pop-up discovery
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Bay C: Following the sun [Portolan Atlas]
Bay C: Following the sun [Portolan Atlas]
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Bay D: Gutenberg's gift
Bay D: Gutenberg's gift
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Bay E: Tunnel under the Thames
Bay E: Tunnel under the Thames
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Bay F: 20th Century pop-ups
Bay F: 20th Century pop-ups
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Bay G: Pop-up Pop Music!
Bay G: Pop-up Pop Music!
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Bay H: Old favourites
Bay H: Old favourites
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Bay I: A theatre inside the book
Bay I: A theatre inside the book
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Bay J: Old school flicker
Bay J: Old school flicker
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Bay K: Uncorking wine pop-ups
Bay K: Uncorking wine pop-ups
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Bay L: A father's gesture
Bay L: A father's gesture
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Bay M: Moveable greetings
Bay M: Moveable greetings
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Bay N: Pop-ups for Christmas
Bay N: Pop-ups for Christmas
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Bay O: Pop-ups for Christmas
Bay O: Pop-ups for Christmas
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Bay P: Pop-ups spells 'Christmas'
Bay P: Pop-ups spells 'Christmas'
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Bay Q: Early history of pop-up books for children
Bay Q: Early history of pop-up books for children
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A theatre inside the book

A theatre inside the book
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