Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am a bibliophile.
I love books, I love book stores and I love libraries.
So, of course, when visiting Canberra we had to visit the National Library of Australia.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have bothered.
Now, first, let me show you the Library of Congress in Washington that I totally fell in love with.
Isn’t that building gorgeous?!!
Now, hold on, you haven’t even seen inside yet.
Pick up your jaw because it gets better.
Check out the reading room! And see those books through the arches.
Now, check out Australia’s National Library.
This place has been described as “stunningly beautiful”.
Clearly, I have a different idea of what ‘beauty’ is.
No, it’s no better inside.
And you don’t even get to see the books!
They are hidden away in the stacks underground.
And a quick google will reveal that even the stacks are ugly.
The only beautiful thing about this library was its books, artifacts
Very disappointed Australia.
But, we’d turned up for their guided tour of the Treasures exhibition
so we hung around
to meet our guide and see if things would improve.
They did…a smidge.
We were led into a relatively small area
filled with a handful of precious treasures
…and they were treasures
so our time wasn’t completely wasted.
We saw Captain Cook’s portable desk.
It’s where he would have written his letters, journals and ship’s logs.
We saw a map of Australia (then called ‘New Holland’) from 1659.
It’s the first to contain bits of Tasmania.
We saw Arthur Bowes Smyth’s journal from the First Fleet.
(He was a surgeon on the female convicts’ transport ship.)
We saw William Bligh’s notebook from 1789.
It records the journey he was forced to undertake
after his crew mutinied and put him and his loyal crew overboard in a boat to fend for themselves.
We saw lots of gorgeous paintings.
This one is of Hobart in 1857.
I was particularly interested in these Aboriginal breastplates, also called King Plates.
I’d seen them before but thought they were some kind of mockery or punishment
but seemingly they were bestowed as rewards to Aborigines who had helped colonists.
We saw lots of these breastplates on our holidays.
The most bizarre thing we saw in the exhibition
was Beethoven’s life mask.
No, not a ‘death’ mask.
This mask was made while Beethoven was alive.
Isn’t it interesting what you can find in an Australian exhibition.
So that was our visit to the National Library of Australia
…and, yes, I did buy some books in their bookstore.