Place of knowledge
The arched windows stream light into Hackett Hall.
Hackett Hall currently houses the WA Museum’s famous Blue Whale skeleton, “Otto” but, it was once also a library and reading room. Originally, books lined the shelves and tables were filled by avid readers and researchers. Today you can see the empty bookshelves inside. They provide clues to this building’s original purpose.
Hackett Hall was constructed as an extension to the Victoria Library Building between 1914-1918. The Victoria Library building is now demolished, but it occupied the space between the two historical buildings seen today.
The construction of Hackett Hall increased the size and services of the State Library and accommodated the growing archives of the State, ranging from books, diaries, letters, artwork, music, ephemeral items and more. It was used for this purpose until the opening of the Alexander Library Building in 1985.
In the same way that some buildings are preserved, and others demolished, the archives of the State/ State Library have always involved making choices about what is kept. The archive includes documents and collections that help us remember what Western Australia was like at different times.
How do you think the decisions as to what historical items to collect and preserve, and which to disregard, shape how we understand the past?
Visit the third floor (Battye Library) of the State Library/ Alexander Library building. Look up to the ceiling to see how the “sky lights” and large windows fill this modern reading room with light.
Hackett Hall - Western Australian Museum