The Women’s: carers, advocates and reformers
18 April – 2 November 2019

Medical History Museum, 
Melbourne University

In 2008, I had the privilege of documenting the final days of Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital Carlton campus prior to its relocation to the new Parkville campus.  As a ‘fly on the wall’, I photographed the dedicated staff at work in the well-worn hospital.

I also photographed some of the countless objects from the institution’s 150-year history, which had been carefully preserved and archived; this precious collection now resides with the University of Melbourne’s Medical History Museum.

Ten-plus years on, the Museum has curated an extraordinary display of objects from the collection, including four of my photographs from the 2008 documentary.  The exhibition catalog included two of the images.

The full collection of photographs was published in 2009 in the commemorative book Transitions.

From the Exhibition Catalog:

The exhibition, The Women’s: carers, advocates and reformers and accompanying catalogue highlights items from the Women’s Hospital Historic and Archive collection, Medical History Museum collection and  Public Records Office. It explores the role of key individuals, public education and health campaigns, public policy and research, from the first hospital site to where the hospital is located today. The exhibition will also acknowledge the stories and traditions of the traditional owners.

The Women’s has played a critical role in the life of Melbourne since its beginnings. As historian Janet MacCallum explains:  “The Royal Women’s Hospital opened in August 1856 as the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital and Infirmary for the Diseases Peculiar to Women and Children in a terrace house in Albert Street, East Melbourne. Melbourne was in the midst of a gold-rush that would bring half a million people through the colony in the decade. Women were abandoned, pregnant and destitute, while their husbands and erstwhile lovers tried their luck on the goldfields. The need for a charity lying-in hospital for women without homes was urgent.”