The Ashes Are Coming Home To State Library Victoria

14 March 2019

Cricket’s legendary Ashes Urn will be the centrepiece of a major free exhibition opening at the State Library Victoria later this year, with the support of the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said the original Ashes Urn, which symbolises cricket’s greatest rivalry between Australia and England, is coming home to Victoria for only the third time in 137 years.

It will form part of the library’s largest ever free exhibition, Velvet, Iron, Ashes, a powerplay which will explore the surprising connections between some of Victoria’s best known, and not so known, stories.

The interactive exhibition will reveal the true origins of the Ashes Urn – from a mock funeral notice, a precious perfume jar and a family cricket match – and its little-known connections to Ned Kelly, Yallourn power station and even Nappy Wash.

The Urn is normally kept behind glass at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, with only replicas appearing in Australia, but England’s Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has agreed for it to be part of the first exhibition in the new Victoria Gallery, endowed by the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation.

Velvet, Iron, Ashes will open in Spring 2019 in the library’s new gallery, one of the stunning heritage spaces to be returned to public use as part of $88.1 million State Library Victoria Vision 2020 redevelopment.

The massive transformation is supported by the Labor Government and generous philanthropic donations. State Library Victoria is one of the most visited public libraries in the world, welcoming around 2 million people each year. Find out more at

Quotes attributable to Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley

“Cricket lovers and history buffs will be bowled over by this rare opportunity to get up close to the iconic Ashes Urn.”

“The Ashes will be the centrepiece of Velvet, Iron, Ashes - the first exhibition to hit the deck in the library’s brand new Victoria Gallery and its largest and most ambitious to date.”

Quote attributable to State Library CEO Kate Torney

We are thrilled to have the chance to bring to life the wonderful stories surrounding the Ashes tradition, which began here in Melbourne, as the history of the Urn is very much woven into the history of this state.”

Quote attributable to MCC Chief Executive and Secretary Guy Lavender

“The story of the Ashes Urn is one that captivates so many people around the world and the State Library’s exhibition is a very fitting place for its story to be told.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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