‘The Queen’s Reading Room’, named in honour of Queen Victoria, was opened on her birthday (24 May) in 1859 when the south wing of the Library was completed.
Photographs taken on the opening day show the Chief Librarian, Augustus Tulk, sitting at the end of a table, with his assistants and some workmen posing as patrons.
The north wing was completed in 1864, extending the vast hall to 44 metres in length. Only part of the new extension was used for the Library, the rest was reserved for the temporary exhibition of pictures, which would become part of the National Gallery collection.
The colour scheme was different to anything before seen in Melbourne at the time. Bateman’s design still exists today beneath layers of paint. 
Originally lit by skylights, the reading room was flooded with natural light during the day. Gas lighting was installed a few months after opening, which remained in use for 25 years as a back-up system, as there were frequent breakdowns in the electricity supply. In November 1901, a severe storm hit Melbourne. The Queen’s Hall skylights were shattered and readers had to be evacuated.
“the skylights in the great Queen’s Hall were so shattered that the waters came in, and the readers had to be warned out…”
The Weekly Times (Melbourne), Saturday 16 November, 1901
In 1913, a grand marble staircase was installed. Replacing the wooden stairs, it joined Queen’s Hall and the newly opened Domed Reading Room.
In 1915, the Industrial and Technological Museum (later known as the Science Museum) re-opened in Queen’s Hall.  According to newspaper reports, it displayed the first motor car imported into Australia. In 1973 the Library closed Queen’s Hall for renovations as the room was in need of restoration with plaster work crumbling and roof leaking.
The original skylights were covered during these works and a gabled roof was added to prevent ongoing storm damage. Hundreds of broken mouldings were replaced and new chandeliers, based on the original gaslight fittings, were installed. 
Queen’s Hall reopened as the Art, Music and Performing Arts Library in 1975. Visitors could browse 40,000 books in the fine arts and music, and listen to the latest records with new state-of-the-art equipment. 
After nearly 30 years as the Arts Library, Queen’s Hall was falling into disrepair. In 2003, the Arts Library was relocated, and Queen’s Hall was closed as a public reading room.
In April 2015, the Library embarked on a major redevelopment project (Vision 2020) which includes the refurbishment and re-opening of Queen’s Hall as a public reading room. The Library redevelopment will be funded by $55.4 million from the Victorian Government and $28 million in philanthropic contributions.
The Ian Potter Foundation will become the lead philanthropic donor for the Queen’s Hall refurbishment through a $10 million donation. Once complete, it will be renamed in honour of Sir Ian Potter as the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall.
Works will commence in 2017 to re-open this historic reading room to the people of Victoria once again.
 Building a new world: a history of the State Library of Victoria 1853–1913, Harriet Edquist
  The Queen’s Hall and the murals: historical notes, State Library Victoria
 La Trobe Journal, 16 October 1975, Relocation of services in the State Library, Margery C. Ramsay
 Queen’s Hall: a regal setting for art and music treasures, State Library Victoria