27 September 2023

Historic photographs in the picture

Start the conversation

Students studying cultural heritage and conservation at the University of Canberra (UC) are to turn their attention to the ACT in the coming months, cataloguing and digitising historic photographs obtained by the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG).

More than 3,500 press photographs taken between the 1920s and the 1990s have been returned to Canberra from the United States, to be added to the CMAG collection.

The ACT photographs were acquired by CMAG for more than $20,000, and the UC undergraduate students will catalogue and digitise the entire collection.

Director of CMAG, Shane Breynard said there had been some concern that such an important collection could be lost to Australia.

“The collection encompasses a broad range of images from political, social and historical events, captured by what was then Fairfax Media,” Mr Breynard said.

“Fairfax sent a huge part of its photographic collection to the US to be digitised in 2013, but the company undertaking the work was liquidated. After several years in limbo in an Arkansas warehouse, the photos were acquired by the Duncan Miller Gallery in California.”

He said the collection reflected the development of Canberra and its community over a 70-year period.

“It also documents an era before the advent of online technologies, when the photographic image on the newspaper’s printed page played a more central role in shaping and reflecting the values of our community than it does today,” Mr Breynard said.

The collection will be temporarily rehoused at UC’s campus in the coming weeks, and students will start working on the photographs during the Winter Semester.

The first major exhibition of photographs from the collection will take place in March 2020.

Pictured is a photograph taken on the UC campus in September 1979 outside Building One. Today this is the top of the university’s Southern Concourse.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.