15 May 2024

National Archives of Australia restores panoramas of Australian life in early 20th century

The National Archives of Australia has restored and digitised about 180 panoramas taken between 1907 and 1928. 

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A collection of previously unseen images depicting early 20th-century Australian life has been meticulously restored by a team at the National Archives of Australia (NAA). Captured between 1907 and 1928, these 179 panoramas showcase a variety of scenes, including Australian landscapes and a 1911 cricket match between Africa and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Originally part of copyright applications, the photos had been stored at the archives in Canberra since the 1960s but only recently received attention for restoration.

Restoration was a painstaking process, involving careful cleaning, flattening, and high-resolution digitisation to make the images available to the public. Travis Taylor, NAA conservation laboratory manager, explained the challenges faced by the team, particularly the delicate task of unrolling and handling the fragile photographs. The images, described as "a fantastic snapshot in time," offer unique insights into various aspects of Australian life, from urban development to significant historical events like the departure of troop ships in 1914. These photos also reveal changes in fashion and the transformation of landscapes over the past century.

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