A landmark agreement will see Powerhouse acquire ACP’s photography archive and fund worth approximately $1.6 million preserved under the name ‘Powerhouse Photography’.

Powerhouse Photography Advisory Group. Top row (L-R) Hugh Stewart, Lisa Moore, Tom Blachford, Cherine Fahd, Sarah Rees, Garry Trinh. Bottom row (L-R) Emily McDaniel, Zan Wimberley, Merilyn Fairskye, Meng-Yu Yan, Jacqui Strecker. Photograph by Hugh Stewart.

This will allow the government-funded museum group to preserve the legacy of the now-defunct Australian Centre for Photography (ACP) and elevate Powerhouse’s photography collection and reserve of image-making practices. The group is currently undertaking a landmark $1.4 billion infrastructure renewal program, spearheaded by the creation of the flagship museum, Powerhouse Parramatta; expanded research and public facilities at Powerhouse Castle Hill; the renewal of the iconic Powerhouse Ultimo; and the ongoing operation of Sydney Observatory.

The addition of the ACP archive will add a significant collection of images accumulated by the ACP across its almost 50-year existence, from its inception in 1974 to the present day. This includes imagers collected by the ACP when it presented the first major retrospectives of photographs by Max  Dupain, Olive Cotton and Mervyn Bishop as well as the early exhibitions of works by Bill Henson, William Yang, Tracey Moffatt and Trent Parke. Powerhouse will digitise the ACP archive making this significant resource accessible to the public for the first time. This foundational gift from ACP provides the impetus for Powerhouse to evaluate and expand upon its existing photography collection and develop an Australian Photography Archive.

Powerhouse Photography will continue the mission of ACP through an ongoing series of programs, publications, learning and research activities dedicated to the promotion and development of photography in Australia. The Powerhouse Photography annual program will include a photography research fellowship, tertiary internship program, contemporary photography acquisition program, and industry day. It will also connect Powerhouse to industry and embed knowledge, insights and advice to inform curatorial strategies.

Central to Powerhouse Photography is the establishment of the Powerhouse Photography Advisory Group (pictured above), comprised of photographers, and industry and community representatives. Co-chaired by photographer and University of Technology Sydney Associate Professor, Cherine Fahd and Powerhouse Senior Curator Sarah Rees, the panel includes photographer, filmmaker and ACP board member Merilyn Fairskye; Friends of ACP member Lisa Moore; photographer Garry Trinh; photographer Hugh Stewart; photographer Meng-Yu Yan; photographer Tom Blachford; Powerhouse Director First Nations Emily McDaniel; Powerhouse Head of Curatorial Jacqui Strecker; and Powerhouse Artistic Associate Zan Wimberley. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of ACP in 2024, Powerhouse will collaborate with the newly established Photography Advisory Group to deliver a curated digital program and a major publication on Australian photography via Powerhouse Publishing.