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Street Photography Exhibition - Final Weeks

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An extraordinary, largely unseen record of Sydney
Street photograph by Leicagraph Co photographer Ted Waight, Pitt Street, Sydney, 1940. State Library of New South Wales: ON 228

The Museum of Sydney is currently presenting a stunning exhibition entitled 'Street Photography', which explores the heyday of this once popular but now forgotten genre.

Before the days of Instagram, personal cameras, copyright and privacy laws, street photographers were a familiar part of central Sydney during the 1930s to the late 1950s, inadvertently creating a vast archive of black-and-white, postcard-sized candid images of our city 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.

Following a hugely successful public call-out by Sydney Living Museums, over 1500 personal images contributed by people far and wide have come to light, offering a glimpse into the everyday life of Sydney and its people during the Depression, WWII and postwar years. 250 of these images were digitised and enlarged and form the basis of the exhibition.

Complementing this extraordinary and largely unseen pictorial record of Sydney is an exciting series of works by nationally acclaimed photomedia artist Anne Zahalka, who restaged nine 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.

"Street Photography provides a unique opportunity for the public to actively contribute to this exhibition from beginning to end," said Mark Goggin, Executive Director, Sydney Living Museums. "The overwhelming response to our call-out for photos shows that few people would have escaped being 'snapped' by a street photographer. Many visitors to this exhibition will most likely recognise friends or family members."

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. These images have now been acquired by Sydney Living Museums and will be preserved for the future.

"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. Each image is a fleeting memento of a day spent in the city and reveals who we were, the changing fashions and social mores" said Anna Cossu, Curator, City Museums Portfolio, Sydney Living Museums,

Street Photography is now open until 21 July 2019 at the Museum of Sydney. The Museum admission fee is $15 adult, $8 concession and $30 family.

Find out more and plan your visit to this fascinating exhibition at

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When: Until 21 July 2019
Where: Museum of Sydney, Bridge St &, Phillip St, Sydney NSW 2000
Cost: Museum admission: $15 adult, $8 concession, $30 family
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