Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Incredible photographs

Photo: Henry Barnes © Australian Museum

Elizabeth Mackinnon, The First 100: Incredible photographs from the Archives, Australian Museum Blog, 19 June 2015

A new blog series investigating the stories and images from the earliest collection of photographs in the Museum’s history.

A new project is developing in the Australian Museum’s Archives – to photograph the collection’s earliest examples of glass plate negatives. These early plates are called the V-negatives, with the oldest dating back as early as the 1860s. This makes them some of the earliest scientific photographs taken in Australia.

With over 15,000 glass plate negatives in our collection, many have rarely been viewed since they were originally developed. The subjects in the glass plates vary from fish specimens to anthropological displays. Most of the oldest were photographed at the museum by Henry Barnes and his son, Henry Barnes Jnr with the help of Curator Gerard Krefft.

The first goal of the project is to work with our photographer to produce new high quality, high resolution images and fully catalogue the first 1000 glass plate negatives in the collection. With the aid of the 1906 register of the V-negatives, we aim to discover which specimens are still in the collection, where they were discovered, and where some of these images may have been originally published.

Even in the early stages of this research, some amazing discoveries have been made of these truly fascinating glass plates. So watch this space for more photos and stories as the project progresses!

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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