The Mortlock Wing is a stunning example of Victorian library architecture, and with its shelves lined with beautiful old tomes and volumes still evokes the tradition of lending libraries that in the first years of the colony was one of the only available sources of adult education and further learning.
Sir Henry was part of the official party that opened the Jervois Wing in 1884, now the Mortlock Wing. At the time the premises accommodated both library, museum and gallery, containing 23,000 books available to the public and a collection that included "articulated skeletons, birds and insects, minerals, shells and a valuable ethnological collection". It also held "many beautiful pictures" that formed the "nucleus" of today's Gallery.
Today, the collection has found new popularity among students and tourist visitors who have given it the affectionate nickname of the “Harry Potter Room” for its resemblance to the grand library of J.K. Rowling’s fictional wizarding school Hogwarts. Among other functions and launches held in the Wing, the State Library has also held marathon screenings of the Potter films.
Prior to its construction, the 1860 Institute building marked the first piece of the cultural boulevard that North Terrace became. The site of countless lectures, meetings and various other intellectual and cultural endeavours, it also saw Sir Henry take to the stage on a rare occasion. At an annual Christmas recital at the Institute Ayers performed in a scene from Douglas Jerrold's comedy 'Time Works Wonders', provoking calls for an encore that went unmet as Henry and his counterpart Mr. J.H. Clark were "not prepared to comply with it".