Government MinistersState Library of South Australia

Treasures of the State Library


The AntiphonalThe Treasures Wall exhibition showcases historical and contemporary materials drawn from the collections of the State Library of South Australia. It celebrates the remarkable depth and diversity of the collections by presenting a selection of items drawn from the wealth of Library holdings, including rare books, manuscripts, archival materials, artworks, artefacts, photographs, and printed ephemera. Ranging from an Akkadian Dynasty clay tablet from the ancient world, to recent 'Adelaide Alive!' Australian Formula One Grand Prix memorabilia, these objects reflect the richness of the State Library's collections.

This exhibition provides a unique opportunity for visitors to glimpse resources that have largely been 'hidden treasures'. The Treasures Wall displays around 20 of the Library's treasures at any time within preservation requirements and may be viewed free of charge during Library opening hours. The materials displayed comprise only a fraction of the items held in the State Library. Exhibits demonstrate the Library's key Clockwork Beetlerole in collecting, preserving and providing access to the community's cultural heritage.

What is a 'treasure'? Rarity, age, monetary value, association with particular people, places and events, and aesthetics, are all factors which contribute to defining an item as a treasure. However, the answer to this question lies very much in the eye of the beholder-individuals will identify a 'treasure' because a certain material has particular appeal and significance. The variety of materials selected for exhibition aims to provide samples of treasures from different perspectives.

Among the exhibition's treasures are the exquisitely illuminated thirteenth century Antiphonal, a first edition of George French Angas's South Australia illustrated, CH Smith's hand-drawn sketches of the innovative stump jump plough, and a striking costume design by Thelma Afford. Spanning many centuries, and sourced from local to global origins, the treasures range from rare books to the more unexpected-nineteenth century children's clockwork toys, and the Magarey Medal awarded to Bob Snell in 1929.

Clay TabletWhen selecting items for display, preservation issues are of principal concern as many of the materials are fragile and vulnerable to light, temperature and humidity. Preservation team staff strive to maintain the most suitable exhibition environments and storage conditions to support the long-term survival of collection materials. Limiting the display period by means of rotation of items assists the preservation process.

The Wall itself is a 'treasure', with 40 individual panels featuring South Australian natural materials and industries. Materials used on the wall panels include abalone shell, bluestone, coal, cattle hide, copper, green glass, gold, granite, grapevine prunings, iron ore, lead, limestone, opal, quartz composite, salt, silver, slate, steel: car duco, talc, wheat, wool and zinc.

The Treasures Wall is 24 metres long and 2.5 metres high, and is located on Level 1 in the Spence Building.

Magarey MedalThe Treasures Wall exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of numerous private and corporate sponsors. This online exhibition enables viewing of materials in the Treasures Wall both on current display and when archived after replacement for preservation purposes.

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Flinders Ranges South Australia's winter sunland

Flinders Ranges tourism poster from the 1930s
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The Treasures Wall