Points of focus: historic photographs from the Pacific

Points of Focus

'Sea Village Admiralty Islands New Guinea', 1929. Photographer: W.J. Jackson. HP2013.1.4

Historic photographs from the Pacific are the result of complex cross-cultural encounters; their stories are many and varied and continue to unfold as we learn more about them. The images in this exhibition span close to a century, the earliest dating from the late 1850s when photography was in its infancy and rapidly growing as a means of recording and communicating ideas. In this period the camera rendered the vibrant hues of the Pacific in shades of black and white.

This exhibition is drawn exclusively from the Macleay Museum’s extensive historic photograph collection. It includes colonial government and missionary images, as well as those of traders, anthropologists, educators and tourists. Through the themes of community, sea & land, governance, spirituality and the market, the images are used as points of focus to examine aspects of Pacific history. The exhibition explores how photographs shape our understanding of the past and continue to provoke new ideas about the Pacific today.