• Fire damaged photos at the NFSA, 2003.

Family memories saved from fire

Preservation staff work on fire damaged photos

Preservation staff work on fire-damaged photos

Several packets of precious family photographs are stored in a fireproof safe and survive the devastating 2003 Canberra bushfires. The intense heat, however, causes all the photographs to stick together with the gelatin emulsion melting and sticking to the adjacent photograph. The distraught family seeks advice from the NFSA.

NFSA staff seek advice from colleagues around the world and eventually modify a treatment used for motion picture films in an attempt to recover the priceless photographs. The NFSA develops the technique and trains members of the family to care for their photos.