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Museum of Australian Photography (MAPh)

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by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Published May 10th 2023
FREE entry to this great museum
Christopher KOLLER | Janet Beckhouse, ceramic artist

The Museum of Australian Photography (MAPh) is a rebranding of the old Monash Gallery of Art (MGA). As the building has been there for decades I'd been previously and while I thought it was a good art venue to visit - let's just say I never went back as it wasn't memorable.

Now that the venue is concentrating only on photography I think this museum has come of age. The focus is a real drawcard. The MGA always had photography but now it specialises in this medium hence its new name the Museum of Australian Photography (MAPh). Today it is home to the most significant photography collection in the country.

Christian THOMPSON | Conjure by moon 2013

Some 3630 Australian photographic works, in fact. And the only cultural institution in the country where the collection is focused solely on Australian photography. The present exhibition 100 Faces brings together 100 works including shots of celebrities and cultural figures to anonymous individuals caught unaware on the street.

This exhibition features works by major Australian and international artists covering from the 1860s to today. As you walk through the exhibition the images become more complex covering topics such as death, intimacy, and personal and cultural identity.

One image has such shock value it was behind a black curtain so you could draw it only if you had read the caption and thought you could cope. This was 'Striking Worker, Assassinated (1934)', captured by Manuel Álvarez Bravo in Mexico during a sugar mill labour strike.

Not knowing much about photography I recognized only a few of the photographers named but those I recognised seemed significant such as Olive Cotton, Paul Cox, Max Dupain, Sue Ford, and Bill Henson.

A collaged selection of photos concentrates on artists such as Geoffrey Smith's 1967 photo of Mirka Mora, and Lewis Morley's shot of Barry Humphries from 1962.

The architecture and sculpture park

MAPh is situated on parkland with views of Melbourne's southeast. The original part of the building was designed by internationally renowned architect Harry Seidler. Outside is a sculpture park so visitors are surrounded by art both inside and out.

A Surprisingly Good Cafe

The cafe is surprisingly cheap with an Asian-inspired menu. Delights include dumplings, Wonton soup, spicy eggplants and pork rice, Koung bao chicken rice, and Japanese grilled eel rice alongside seafood curry laska and Ramen soup. There are also more traditional local items such as eggs Benedict and smashed avo. I noticed you could also order a glass of wine.

With four major exhibitions each year, there will always be something to come back to see at MAPh. There is a good gift shop as well.

Better still, entry is FREE.

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Why? For the love of photography
When: TUE-FRI 10.00 am-5.00 pm
 SAT-SUN 10.00 am-4.00 pm
Phone: 03 85440500
Where: 860 Ferntree Gully Road Wheelers Hill
Cost: FREE
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