New chapter for State Library: incoming CEO wants to show off hidden treasures

The State Library of Victoria is best known for its books, but when new chief executive Paul Duldig begins, he plans to set free some of its other large, lesser-known collections.

The library’s storerooms hold about 1.2 million artworks, including paintings by Howard Arkley, Clarice Beckett and Tom Roberts and photographs by Rennie Ellis.

A new chapter: incoming State Library of Victoria CEO Paul Duldig in the Dome reading room.Credit:Joe Armao

Duldig wants to see more of that art on display as part of his plan to “throw open the doors” of the 166-year-old Melbourne institution to people who may not usually visit.

He’s contemplating extending opening hours, collaborating with galleries and universities, and even allowing visitors to drink coffee in more of the library’s rooms than they can now.

The library will announce Duldig’s appointment on Wednesday. He begins in his post on August 15.

He says he is excited to take the helm of a place that has a personal connection to so many Victorians, whether they researched their family history there, wrote a book or brought their children for activities.

But he’s keen to reach out to people who wouldn’t normally come into the library.

“Some people feel it’s a bit imposing, like, ‘am I allowed to go in there?’” he said. “And there are parts of our collection that would be incredibly engaging to a very broad audience.”

Now that the library’s $88 million renovation is complete, Duldig says he and the library’s new board president, Christine Christian, “are looking at how do we activate, how do we bring people in, how do we throw open the doors, help Victorians make the most of this incredible resource”.

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