Pictures Collections

A guide to finding and using the Pictures collection at the State Library of New South Wales.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available

Collection Highlights

Major Collections

Below are a few examples highlighting some of our major collections, interesting collection items and digitised materials.


You can explore diverse and significant State Library artworks exhibited in high resolution in our online galleries:

  • May Gibbs author, illustrator and cartoonist, captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of Australians with her lovable bush characters and fanciful landscapes.
  • Voyages of Discovery Find out about adventures of famous explorers, shipboard life, encounters with indigenous peoples, cultural insights, and descriptions of the strange new flora, fauna and topography of the Great South Land.
  • Shipboard brings to life the experience of the long voyage to Australia undertaken by thousands of emigrants in the second half of the 19th century.
  • Macquarie Era Governor Lachlan Macquarie (1762 - 1824), fifth governor of New South Wales, was a man with great vision for a new nation. His leadership during the infancy of the colony is celebrated with a collection of unique manuscripts, pictures, maps and realia.
  • Artists of the First Fleet drawings depict Indigenous people and the Australian environment at the point of colonisation in 1788.
  • The commandant and the convict Previously unknown, the recent discovery and acquisition of a fascinating album compiled by Captain James Wallis reveals the artistic contributions and working relationship of two key players in late Macquarie era New South Wales: James Wallis (1785? - 1858) and Joseph Lycett (ca. 1775 - 1828).

 [View of a river landscape with five cut out pasted down drawings of five standing Aborigines, ca. 1818 / by James Wallis]

View of a river landscape with five cut out pasted down drawings of five standing Aborigines, ca. 1818, from Album of original drawings by Joseph Lycett, SAFE/PXE 1072

Pictures Collections Lectures

Watch fascinating past talks by Library guests and staff, relating to our Pictures Collections and art of Australia

The Macquarie Collectors Chest 

presented by Warren Brown

Iconic Australian Photography

presented by Alan Davies, Curator of Photographs

Eugène von Guérard's Beautiful Sketchbooks

presented by Dr Ruth Pullin (C.H. Curry Memorial Fellow 2009)

European Representations of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

presented by Michael Davis (David Scott Mitchell Fellow 2009)

Looking Australian

presented by Margot Riley, Curator and Fashion Historian

The secrets of Macquarie's Chest


We have thousands of guides to different collections as well as many indexes and specialist catalogues - all designed to help you find what your looking for or discover a hidden gem.

Some of these guides are attached to the online catalogue record and some are available in the Mitchell Library.