The day has finally arrived for the opening of our #HoodsHarbour exhibition! Showcasing a small selection from our Samuel (Sam) J Hood collection, #HoodsHarbour pays homage to the work of a group of individuals we call our ‘super sleuths’. Thanks to their efforts on our Flickr Commons page, we were able to solve the mystery behind the image that formed the inspiration for this exhibition – the lovely Hera Roberts. The story of this discovery symbolises the way that our followers have enriched our collection, unearthing its secrets and finding its hidden stories. Hood’s photograph of Hera remains the highest viewed and most favourited on the museum’s Flickr Commons photostream to date. More than 80 years after it was taken, Hera continues to captivate and inspire our audiences.
The museum joined Flickr’s The Commons in 2008 and since then, we’ve uploaded 2,869 photographs and clocked over 6.5 million total views. The true value of this platform, however, has been engagement with the community of members who spend their time researching the world’s photographic collections.
It didn’t take the community long before they spotted the spectacular array of photographs from our Sam Hood collection. In a career spanning almost 70 years, Hood was one of Sydney’s most prolific photographers. Each image, offers us a glimpse into a different world and a window into Sydney’s past. His work documents the majestic tall ships that once graced Sydney Harbour, families and crews of the booming shipping trade in the early 1900s, the glitz and glamour of the 1920s and 1930s and Australian troops marching off to war.
Among the photographs are some fascinating portraits. A variety of personalities peer out from each glass-plate and nitrate negative. Rather than traditional forms of studio posed portraiture, Hood’s frank style represent a range of personas, from honest reflections of proud shipowners to rugged crew, youthful sailors and sophisticated socialites.
#HoodsHarbour represents the power of our Flickr followers, who have returned each day to our feed to comb through the collection and unlock its secrets. In the past, many of the stories that I have published on this blog have stemmed from the discoveries made by this community. Whether it was a Japanese flapper, the oldest yachtsman in Sydney, or a story about a family’s passion for sailing, our Flickr sleuths ploughed through on their own mission of historical discovery. And though #HoodsHarbour contains only a handful of these discoveries, their work continues online and beyond this exhibition. In a way, this is a museum first – this is an exhibition that has been chosen by and for the people.
In honour of the work this community have undertaken on our collection, we are running a competition. We’re handing over the curator’s reins to you! Choose your favourite photograph from the Hood collection, tell us why it’s your favourite and we’ll not only display it in #HoodsHarbour for a month, we’ll send you the print.
Special thanks to our regular Flickr contributors and supporters beachcomberaustralia, quasymody and pellethepoet.