Reel History: a look at life through motion film

Philip Batty, Lorenzo Iozzi & Fiona Kinsey

Motion film is one of the most pervasive media we have for portraying life. We are all, in one way or another, influenced by the moving image through cinema, television, the internet and the smart phone. Museums Victoria has a rich collection of film, categorized as home movies, scientific recordings, and film of industry and significant historical events. This lecture will highlight the role of non-fiction film as ‘storyteller’.

The three speakers in this lecture will present segments from a selection of film drawn from the Humanities Department collections, including one of the earliest extant ethnographic films made. Each of the films embodies a story, made unique by the medium used to create it. In this sense film is a powerful means of creating, preserving and sharing our history.

This lecture is an opportunity to view excerpts of film from the collections which has only recently become accessible as an outcome of the Museum’s audio-visual digitisation program. These include: An Arrernte Welcoming Party, Alice Springs, 1901; A Trip to Hermannsburg and Central Australia, 1939; Kodak Australasia footage, Melbourne, 1960s.


  • Dr Philip Batty is Senior Curator of Anthropology at Museums Victoria. He has a wide range of curatorial and academic interests and is the current recipient of an Australian Research Council grant, investigating the ethnography of Alfred W. Howitt.
  • Lorenzo Iozzi is Senior Collection Manager of the History & Technology images collections in the Humanities Department, Museums Victoria. He has been with the Museum for 12 years. His recent projects have included managing the rehousing and digitisation of pre-cinema and motion film collections.
  • Fiona Kinsey is Senior Curator of Images & Image Making in the Humanities Department, Museums Victoria, where she has worked for almost 20 years. Her current projects relate to the Kodak Heritage Collection and photographs of Melbourne manufacturing workers 1870s-1970s.

This lecture was part of the History, Culture & Collections 2017 lecture series held at Melbourne Museum.

Check out our latest series, Museum Lectures.

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