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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Archive set to reopen with insightful new exhibition

After months of closure, the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) will reopen on Saturday 1 August with a new permanent exhibition called Hive, which will highlight the breadth of work done at the Archive.

NFSA manager of exhibitions and education, Felicity Harmey, told Canberra Weekly that Hive was created in response to feedback from visitors who loved their temporary exhibitions and screenings, but wanted to know more about the Archive’s collection, their staff, and the multi-faceted work they undertake to preserve Australia’s audio-visual history.

“At the NFSA we collect, preserve and share, and Hive is structured around those three ideas,” she said, “exploring lots of stories about what we collect, how we preserve, and share and make them relevant and exciting for our audiences.”

Having been in development for a year now, Hive was originally meant to open in April, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Covering film, television, radio and gaming right through to virtual reality (VR), Hive was conceived about a year ago with the idea that “we wanted people to be able to find the joy in the collection, whether you’re a film fanatic, tech head or gamer”, Ms Harmey said.

The first step in planning the exhibition involved contacting all different areas of the Archive, comprising restoration and preservation, documents and artefacts, objects and memorabilia, and more.

Ms Harmey and her team heard from the staff in those various areas about their duties and work from their perspective.

“We selected the initiatives that really captured the spirit of what we’re about here at the national archives, which is film and sound but also a lot of smaller, unexpected activities,” she said.

That idea is showcased foremost in Hive’s centrepiece display, a new digital interactive Storywall, created in conjunction with SBS Digital Creative Labs, that will feature life-size projections of six NFSA staff experts.

Audience members will be able to walk up to the display and, using their smart phone, hear about each expert’s experience working with the Archive as they discuss an item of personal significance they’ve chosen from the collection.

“We’re highlighting stories you’d never hear about that resonate with the staff here,” Ms Harmey said.

With objects spanning from Australia’s first Academy Award won by Kokoda Front Line in 1942 right through to a VCR highlighting the challenges of working with material and formats quickly becoming obsolete – this fascinating component of Hive offers fascinating insights.

The Archive’s 1 August re-opening will not only see Hive launch but also a return to regular screening programs.

With an understandably popular Bluey pyjama party already sold out, other events include a screening of the seminal 1927 German sci-fi movie Metropolis on 15 August, and The Loved Ones Twisted Prom Night on 28 August –  with prizes for best dressed.

“We’ve missed our visitors so much; staff have been back for a month but it’s not the same without our visitors. When we’re not sharing our collection, we don’t quite feel right,” Ms Harmey said.

A full listing of the Archive’s August events program can be found here.

Hive’s centrepiece display is a new digital interactive Storywall, created in conjunction with SBS Digital Creative Labs, that will feature life-size projections of six NFSA staff experts. Image supplied.

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