A Different Time: The Expedition Photographs of Herbert Basedow 1903 -1928, opens at the South Australian Museum on11 May 2012.


Herbert Basedow,on Buxton, a riding camel, near present-day Granite Downs station, South Australia, 1903. Photograph by Alfred Treloar using Basedow’s camera. Herbert Basedow collection, National Museum of Australia

Herbert Basedow, who could be described as Australia’s first ‘home-grown’ professional anthropologist, was a qualified doctor, politician, photographer and scientist who ventured deep into the Outback to capture moments in Aboriginal history. Most images in this touring exhibition have never been displayed before.

The National Museum of Australia’s photography team spent several months digitising Basedow’s negatives and glass lantern slides to give visitors the rare opportunity to experience this important Australian story. Like many travellers, Herbert Basedow used photography to document his expeditions. While photographing landscapes and remote station life, he also recorded early twentieth century Aboriginal communities and gathered information on 12 major geological, exploratory and medical relief expeditions and a number of smaller trips into central and northern Australia between 1903 and 1928. His work was used as a reference for policymakers and scientists in Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Basedow died at just 51 years of age, leaving a rich legacy. In 1934, the year after Basedow’s death, the Commonwealth Government purchased the collection. The South Australian Museum will add objects from its own Basedow collection to this exhibition. These include family photographs and items that Basedow collected such as a boomerang, musical stick, weapons and a canoe paddle. The artefacts have been cared for by the Museum since Basedow’s death.

The exhibition will run until 24 June 2012. Photographs from the exhibition can also be viewed on the National Museum of Australia’s website at: http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions .