In 2006 Museum Victoria embarked upon a community collecting project with past and present Melburnians, who searched their private albums for their favourite images of Melbourne.
Over 1000 images were collected for “Melbourne’s Biggest Family Album” and are accessible through this website. Selected photographs are also featured in the Melbourne Story exhibition.
These wonderful images have opened up many new perspectives on Melbourne’s history, and provide personal insights into life in our city from the 1880s to the 1980s.
Featuring approximately 170 Melbourne suburbs they depict people of all ages, from a range of cultures. Melburnians are captured at home, on the streets, working, celebrating, travelling, playing and mourning.
These photographs also show some of our city’s hidden histories - people travelling on public transport, hanging out their washing, browsing inside shops, sleeping in their bedrooms, and washing in the bathroom.
The Biggest Family Album concept is based around the copying of images rather than the donation of originals, meaning that families retain their precious photos, while archival copies are held at the museum.
The Melbourne collecting project was conducted in partnership with four public libraries, in Beaumaris, Box Hill, Broadmeadows and Footscray. Over 120 contributors responded enthusiastically to the invitation to share their photographs, with most bringing several generations of family photographs with them.
They brought with them not just photographs, but stories, emotions and a passion about their place in history. More than a few tears were shed as personal anecdotes were remembered and recounted to museum staff.
The Biggest Family Album in Australia
Melbourne’s Biggest Family Album was based on The Biggest Family Album in Australia project, undertaken by the museum in the 1980s and 90s, to collect copies of family photos from rural and regional Victoria.
This project was immensely successful, resulting in a collection of over 9,000 photos dating from the 1890s to the 1940s.
These photographs continue to be a resource for the entire community, appearing in education programs, history books, exhibitions, student projects, and community displays.