Lost Darwin: photos of a vanished city
2 June - 14 August 2016
Northern Territory Library, Parliament House, Darwin
Darwin has a recurring history of mass destruction through cyclones and war. It has been virtually flattened four times since its founding, most recently in 1974 when Cyclone Tracy caused the evacuation of over 35,000 people, the largest civil evacuation in Australian history. As many as 60 per cent of residents never returned. This history of permanent migration following disaster and the NT’s ongoing population turnover means there are large networks of former residents dispersed across Australia and internationally. Social media has played a significant role in reuniting these fragmented communities. Facebook is being used by current and former residents to share, reinforce and preserve collective memory, through pages and groups such as Lost Darwin, Darwin Teens of the 70s and 80s, Old Darwin and Darwin History.
The Lost Darwin exhibition featured 65 photographs from 30 contributors, showcasing the most popular and engaging historical photographs of Darwin commonly posted and shared across these pages.
I'm super interested in exploring how social media can be used to curate exhibitions. Lost Darwin was an experiment in distributing the curation process, by translating the preferences of online communities into the library’s exhibition space. The project aimed to start new conversations, grow meaningful relationships with new audiences, both online and through physical visitation, and experiment with the use of social media to identify significant personal collections and encourage cultural donations. It was launched in front of more than 400 people, the largest opening of its kind in the library's history. It led to an explosion of activity within the library and online, generating unprecedented media coverage and a series of new donations, all of which reasserted the library as a premier collecting institution in the Northern Territory.
Images: Sarah Mackie