NGV TEMPORARY CLOSURE

From our team here at NGV, we’re sending our best wishes to our community during this challenging time.

Following the latest public health directions from the Victorian Government, the NGV is temporarily closed to the public.

We encourage you to visit our website and follow our social media for updates.

We are grateful for the loyalty and understanding of the NGV community and hope to welcome you back soon.

Douglas T. Kilburn No title (Group of Koorie men) c.1847

Douglas T. KILBURN
No title (Group of Koori men) (c. 1847)

In 1847 the English-born photographer Douglas Kilburn opened Melbourne’s first commercial photographic studio. As a way of attracting attention to his business, he took at least eight daguerreotypes of Aboriginal people from the area around Melbourne. These daguerreotypes, three of which the Gallery owns, are the earliest surviving photographs of Australia’s Indigenous people and are a highlight of the collection.

Although Kilburn intended the images as ethnographic studies rather than individual portraits, his unnamed sitters project a proud and dignified presence. Today, early photographs have become important as signs of survival and continuity to Aboriginal people, particularly artists, who often make reference to them in their own works.