Ned Kelly's armour gets a new home at State Library Victoria

Ned Kelly's armour gets a new home at State Library Victoria

State Library Victoria unveiled the new home of one of its most celebrated and controversial artefacts, Ned Kelly’s armour, after a year-long hiatus due to lockdown.

Now in a dedicated gallery space in the Library’s South Rotunda, the armour is on display alongside Ned Kelly’s boot, rifle and a life-scale reproduction of the Jerilderie letter.

The free display invites all Victorians to explore the myth that is Ned Kelly – an iconic historical figure who continues to ignite fierce debate among historians, writers and artists worldwide.

State Library Victoria Senior Curator, Carolyn Fraser said the new permanent display will encourage more Victorians than ever before to discover the armour and draw their own meaning from it.

“The Kelly story is contested history, yet it is one of the nation’s most enduring tales.

“Having the armour on display offers us the opportunity to explore its significance and the questions it raises about truth, myth-making and nationhood,” Ms Fraser said.

The Library acquired Ned Kelly’s armour in 1964, when it was transferred from the Melbourne Museum’s collection. However, until 2001, it was thought to have belonged to another member of the Kelly Gang, Steve Hart. The left shoulder plate remains part of the Museum’s collection.

This will be the public’s first chance to see the armour since March 2020 when it was on display in the Library’s Victoria Gallery as part of the Velvet, Iron, Ashes exhibition.

For more information on the armour and the legend surrounding it, see here.

Source: State Library Victoria