Event Name History of the National Photography Prize
Start Date 5 May 2016
End Date 31 Jul 2016
Duration 88 days

As we unveil the finalists in this year's National Photography Prize, MAMA takes pause to look back at the history of the Prize, now the oldest photography prize in Australia.

In 1983, when the prize commenced, the decision to collect photography was progressive. At that time, photography was still on the cusp of gaining acknowledgment within the arts community as a true art form, and its value in public collections was uncertain.

The MAMA Art Foundation was firm in its resolve to support photography, and introduced the Biennial National Photography Prize, through which it was able to make early acquisitions by renowned photographers Max Dupain, Richard Woldendorp, Phillip Quirk and Mark Strizic.

Over 90 works have been directly acquired through the Biennial National Photography Prize, and a further 350 photographic works have been acquired to strengthen MAMA's collection.

The History of the National Photography Prize exhibition showcases 40 of the 90 acquired works and demonstrate the breadth of MAMA's collection and the evolution of photography in Australia, from largely black and white and small scale documentary photography to in more recent years being large scale colour photography.

Since 2007, the MAMA Art Foundation National Photography Prize introduced exhibition themes that have pushed the boundaries of contemporary photography and added exciting new works to the collection.

As we celebrate the outstanding National Photography Prize 2016 finalists, this retrospective exhibition is a timely aide-mémoire and celebration of MAMA as a nationally significant photography venue.