Tall tales and true: Journeys real and imagined

Since the beginning of time, tales of travel, both real and imagined, have been created  in order to make sense of the world. Upon each new geographic discovery, imaginations have been sparked and stories of the weird and wonderful have arisen. From the Age of Discovery to today, travellers have published their accounts for eager audiences of scientists and ‘armchair travellers’, and writers have used these as springboards for fictional works. In Australia, many of the books we hold dear recount journeys throughout the land in order to gain understandings of nation and self.

This exhibition takes viewers on a journey through a range of historical accounts, travel books and literary works from the Rare Books Collection of Monash University Library, which  began, fittingly, with the purchase, in the 1960s, of David Woolley’s valuable collection of books by Jonathan Swift. Since then, the collection has grown to be large and varied, but has maintained a collecting emphasis on Swift’s works and those of his contemporaries such as Daniel Defoe and Alexander Pope, in whose works the motif of the journey features strongly. In recent years these have been joined by works of science fiction, artists’ books, children’s literature and poetry, many of which offer new ways of exploring physical worlds as well as those of the mind.

Ushering in a new era of exhibitions at Monash Library, Tall Tales and True was the first exhibition to be held in The Gallery at the newly refurbished Matheson Library.

The exhibition was opened on 11 July 2017 by Cathrine Harboe-Ree, our recently retired University Librarian. Following the opening there were guided tours of the library, focusing on the art and the displays.

A digital version of the exhibition is available online.