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Hurstville Museum & Gallery welcomes new main exhibition, Street Photography


Hurstville Museum & Gallery’s next Main Gallery exhibition, Street Photography, that explores the once popular genre, will open on Friday 3 February 2023.

Before Instagram, personal cameras, copyright and privacy laws, street photographers were a familiar part of Australian cities and towns during the 1930’s to the late 1950’s. They created a vast archive of black-and-white, postcard-sized candid images of the cities and its people. At the height of its popularity in the mid-1930s, over 10,000 people in NSW were buying photos from street photography companies every week.  

The Street Photography exhibition features 250 digitised and enlarged personal images, offering a fascinating glimpse into the everyday life of Australian cities and its people during the Depression, WWII and post-war years.  

This carefully curated selection of images was chosen following a hugely successful public call-out by Museums of History NSW where 1500 personal images were contributed.

Presented alongside this extraordinary and largely unseen pictorial record, is a series of works by the nationally acclaimed photo-media artist Anne Zahalka. She restaged ten of the original images, with descendants and those still living in similar locations where their parents, grandparents or they once stood. The exhibition also includes new images taken at live photographic locations in key places around the city similar to the street photography of the past. 

“Armed with small portable cameras and positioned in key places around the city, the photographers caught pedestrians unaware - mid-stride, talking or deep in thought as they went about their day, and the public loved it,” said Anna Cossu, Curator, City Museums Portfolio, Museums of History NSW.  

“Each image is a fleeting memento of a day spent in the city and reveals who we were, the changing fashions and social mores.” 

As street photography companies went out of fashion, very few negatives lasted except for a rare collection which came to light through the public call-out and have now been acquired by Museums of History NSW, preserved for the future.  

Street Photography provides a fascinating glimpse of our modern history. An overwhelming response to our call-out for photos demonstrates the wide reach of street photographers capturing our everyday lives,” said Rebecca Bushby, Director Programming, Production & Audience.
Mayor Nick Katris said, “Council and Hurstville Museum & Gallery are honoured to host such an important collection of art and modern history from across Australia.
“The images of people, social structures, fashion and times of the 1930s to late 1950s will be reminiscent for some residents and a thoughtful experience for our younger generations that can compare it to Instagram.”
What: Street Photography exhibition, Friday 3 February 2023 - Sunday 30 April 2023 
When: Exhibition opening, Friday 3 February 2023, 6.00pm
Where: Hurstville Museum & Gallery 
Cost: Free, RSVP via the What's On event listing for catering purposes
For more information, please visit Council’s What’s On page.

Image credit: Street photograph by Leicagraph Co photographer Ted Waight, Pitt Street, Sydney, 1940. State Library of New South Wales: ON 228
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