Blast From Distant Past

Museum of Brisbane photo recordsThe Museum of Brisbane uncovers the most comprehensive photo record of early Brisbane.

Museum of Brisbane’s latest exhibition will offer an amazing visual portrait of a lost city – Brisbane at the turn of the 20th century – through a rare collection of photographs, all shot by a single resident and left forgotten under an inner-city house for decades.

Opening on 13 February, The view from here: The photographic world of Alfred Elliott 1890-1940 will showcase the life’s work of the avid Brisbane-based photographer, offering a fascinating chronicle of the places he visited, major events he witnessed and intimate glimpses into his family life.

The historic collection of glass-plate and film negatives remained stored in cigar boxes under a house in Red Hill until they were uncovered in 1983 and acquired by Museum of Brisbane.

For the past 30 years ‘The Elliott Collection’ was thought to comprise 285 glass plate negatives, until a neglected cigar box with more than 400 film negatives was uncovered at the Museum’s storage facility last year.

This significant discovery has allowed the Museum to further piece together fragments of the passionate amateur photographer’s past. The collection provides a window into both his life and the life of a quickly changing city.

Elliott’s work also captures significant moments in Brisbane’s history, including the Duke and Duchess of York’s visit in 1901 and the farewell of the troops aboard SS Cornwall from Pinkenba in 1899.

Museum of Brisbane Director Peter Denham said the collection was an exceptional record of one man’s perspective of Brisbane at a very exciting time.

“These unseen photographs offer a unique view of Brisbane at a significant turning point – the city’s population was booming, grand civic structures were erected and huge social change was occurring,” Mr Denham said.

“The interactive elements of The view from here offer visitors the chance to get up close with buildings from our past, as well as investigate the photographic technology from the turn of last century.

“With the discovery of hundreds of new photos, we have learned a lot about Elliott and his family and were even able to locate his much-loved home in Taringa. It is part of our mission as the city’s museum to uncover new stories and we are thrilled to share these findings with visitors.

“The exhibition wonderfully captures how much our city has changed and I think it will encourage people to reflect on their own perceptions of Brisbane.”

The view from here will run until 30 August 2015. For more information visit museumofbrisbane.com.au.

Museum of Brisbane is open daily from 10am to 5pm on Level 3 of Brisbane City Hall. Entry is free.

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