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Children and families


John Oxley Library

Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive 1990-2020: Treasure collection of the John Oxley Library

By Stella Read, State Library of Queensland | 15 November 2021

Children Aren't Happy Being Home Alone by Sarah Guttie (6 years) The Murri School

Children aren't happy being home alone / Artwork by Sarah Guttie, aged 6, from The Murri School, Acacia Ridge, Queensland Australia. Created as part of the project 'Children have rights.'

In the 1990s, Barbara Piscitelli began using art to talk to children about their lives, their personal world, their rights and understanding of the future.  During this time, she systematically worked with colleagues in Queensland, Hubei (China) and Vietnam carrying out art-based child-centred projects in kindergartens, primary schools, and various art centres.  Children of many ages were encouraged to use art and stories to explore identity, family, community, play, human rights and the future. 

Exhibitions of these works were held across Australia, China, Vietnam, Canada and the United States of America, enabling thousands of people to view children’s art work and ideas shared in public places. 

Child's drawing

These are my friends blowing bubbles by Hai Di / Artwork by Hai Di, aged 7, from Children’s Cultural House, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam. Created as part of the project 'Play: young children's views.'

Barbara is a renowned advocate for children's cultural citizenship.  Her work in this area is influential, increasing visibility of children and families within the cultural sector in Queensland and Australia, and informing early childhood visual arts education and children's learning in museums.

The collection was donated to the State Library of Queensland in 2005. From 2005 – 2020, and in collaboration with State Library, Barbara continued to gather contemporary works by children in four projects: Children’s Picture Diaries (2005-2010); international exchanges with Hubei (China) (2016 & 2020); and a local project focusing on children’s rights (2013).

Child's drawing

Mother and child by Jessica Charlton / Artwork by Jessica Charlton, aged 5, Chapel Hill Community Preschool and Kindergarten, Chapel Hill, Queensland. Created as part of the project, 'Together under one sun'

This children's art archive is one of two major international collections of children’s art in Australia, the other being the Frances Derham Collection of Child Art held at the National Gallery of Australia.   

The Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive showcases the power of children’s art as a tool to share stories and honours children’s right to express themselves on personal, social, environmental, philosophical, and global issues.   

Stella Read, State Library of Queensland

Collection: 7116 Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children's Art Archive 1986-2016; 2020

Digital Story: Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM oral history and Children’s Art Archive digital story.

Big Voices Exhibition

Drawing from the Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children's Art Archive, the Big Voices exhibition celebrated the courage and creativity of children sharing their stories through art.


Read about other treasure collections held in the John Oxley Library

  1. Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Strait Islands
  2. Johnstone Gallery Archive
  3. Archibald Meston Papers
  4. Mary Watson diaries
  5. Central Queensland Separation League Petition
  6. (I’m) Stranded : No Time, The Saints
  7. Real estate maps collection
  8. Portrait of an Australian Artists' Book
  9. Stable collection 1917 – 1991 
  10. Tony Fitzgerald collection 1984 – 2009
  11. Tindale Genealogical collection 
  12. Charles Seymour Paper 1880 – 1924
  13. Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive 1990-2020
  14. Bennett Family Films 1956 – 1988
  15. The Ron and Ngaire Gale Photographic Collection
  16. Storylines Q150 digital stories



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