Lose yourself in art and history on Level 4

Libraries are about more than just books. Are you an art lover? A history buff? Or seeking some peace and quiet? Then State Library of Queensland’s level 4 spaces are for you! 

Fiona Foley Black Opium Installation

Step out of the lift onto the level 4 Mezzanine, and you will be greeted by Fiona Foley’s stunning, yet sobering, Black Opium installation.

Commissioned in 2006, Black Opium is a truth-telling piece on the 1897 Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act. Whilst politicians claimed this law would ‘safeguard’ First Nations people from exploitation, it became the means through which thousands were kidnapped from their homelands. Consisting of seven mood rooms and an aerial sculpture, Fiona Foley’s artwork invites viewers to take steps for reconciliation by reflecting on the past. 

Talbot Family Treasures Wall

Next, you will encounter the Talbot Family Treasures wall. This is a rotating selection of significant- and sometimes surprising- items from State Library’s heritage collection.

Currently, visitors can view the earliest known map of Brisbane, COVID-inspired sculptures by local artists, Ash Barty’s 2021 Wimbledon uniform, and more. The display changes regularly, so there is always something new to discover.  

Philip Bacon Gallery

Like the Treasures Wall, the Philip Bacon Gallery showcases unique items from the heritage collection, particularly those which highlight the diversity of our state.

Until February 2022, this space will be home to Viewpoints, an exhibition of historic and contemporary First Nations photography. Visitors wishing to relive past Philip Bacon Gallery exhibitions (such as Big Voices and Meet Me At The Paragon) can access online content from the Exhibitions page.

Australian Library of Art

The Australian Library of Art (ALA) is a quiet, contemplative space, perfect for exploring our collections of artists’ books, art history collection and art of the book collection. 

Again, this is a rotating showcase. The most recent selection was inspired by botanics and is a response to the Entwined exhibition currently showing in the SLQ Gallery. A new selection will be installed in February, so plant lovers should be sure to visit the ALA soon. 

White Gloves Room

This is a space for hands-on encounters with Queensland history. Themed ‘white gloves experiences’ occur at various times throughout the year, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with our more delicate collection items. Those keen to don their gloves are encouraged to join an Australian Library of Art Curator’s tour. This includes a mini experience with some Entwined inspired artworks.

Level 4 Meeting Rooms

Groups working on creative projects will find the privacy they need in the level 4 meeting rooms. These can be booked for 3 hours a day by State Library members. Head to the Book Spaces page to secure your spot.  

Not a member? Never fear! Sign up for free online for instant access to the bookings system.

John Oxley Library (JOL)

Considered the heart of level 4, the John Oxley Library is a haven for historians, researchers, students and writers. Unlike levels 2 and 3 (where hushed conversation is allowed), the JOL is a silent space. This makes it the perfect environment for productivity.

John Oxley Library

For historians - Heritage Collection Desks are available for viewing rare and original materials from the repository. First, request your items on the One Search catalogue. Then, reserve a desk on the Book Spaces page (scroll to the Equipment and Collection section). If you run into difficulty with your research, our librarians are experts on Queensland history and are keen to answer your questions.

To protect the collection, food, drink, bags and pens are not permitted at the Heritage Collection Desks. However, you can safely store your belongings in the Level 4 lockers, or cloak them with the friendly Visitor Services team at the Welcome Desk.

For researchers, students and writers - Study is always better with a view. Along with lamps and powerpoints, the JOL study desks come with an 180 panorama of the Brisbane River. They do not require booking, but are extremely popular- be sure to arrive early to claim your spot!

Bags and bottled water are allowed in this area. However, food is strictly prohibited.

Come and explore

Our librarians look forward to seeing you in the level 4 spaces soon. We recommend you make a day of it and embark on the Gallery Walk self-guided tour (which begins on level 4). This is a great way for State Library newbies to explore the library and for veteran visitors to uncover something new.


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