Putting Kodak’s pieces together

by Joanna Wysocki
Publish date
22 August 2011
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This guest post is by Joanna Wysocki, a public relations student from Victoria University, who has recently completed a work placement at MV.

Since the late 1800s, Kodak has been one of the world's leading companies responsible for developing photography and photographic equipment. It has also played a huge role in recording our personal histories – we all remember sending film off to be processed and waiting eagerly by an empty photo album in the days before digital cameras.

It was over 100 years ago that Eastman Kodak Company founder, George Eastman aimed to make photography accessible to everyone. His vision was to make the process of obtaining photos simple so that anyone could own a camera. The advertising campaign slogan at that time was “You press the button, we do the rest.” Significant time periods such as this one are represented in the Kodak Heritage Collection.

Kodak Brownie leaflet, HT 19963
Leaflet - 'Free Repairs to Your Kodak or Brownie', 1938 (HT 19963).
Image: Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd
Source: Museum Victoria

Since 2004, 1200 of the collection's 3100 registered items have been photographed and over 600 items from the Kodak Heritage Collection are on Collections Online. But there are still artefacts, stories and information yet to be discovered.

So, who looks after these Kodak moments?

Since the Volunteer Day in October 2010, former Kodak staff have helped Curator, Fiona Kinsey and Assistant Curator, Angela Jooste to enrich the Kodak Heritage Collection.

Angela, whose main duties are to manage both the collection and Kodak volunteers, says former staff and volunteers have added significant facts and information to the collection.

“From the early days, Kodak cared for the wellbeing of its staff. There is a real sense of loyalty and ownership of Kodak’s history with the former staff volunteering to preserve the collection at the Museum. It’s their knowledge and memories of Kodak that contributes to bringing the Kodak Heritage Collection to life,” said Angela.

Photograph - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, Dinner for Returned World War II Personnel, Photograph - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, Dinner for Returned World War II Personnel, Groups Seated at Tables, Sydney, New South Wales,1946-1947 (MM 96065).
Image: Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd
Source: Museum Victoria

Kodak employed many of its workers’ family members, some of whom spent most of their working lives at the former Coburg and Abbotsford Kodak plants. This has contributed to the community spirit of former staff, as they now want to look after the company that took in generations of their families.

Preserving Kodak’s history will allow future generations to see the significant role Kodak played in the social, cultural and corporate life of Melbourne and Australia, as well as the shift in eras, from analogue to digital.


MV News: Kodak Heritage Collection

Kodak Heritage Collection on Collections Online

History of Kodak

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.