MAX HARRIS’ vast collection of photographs is in safe hands after David and Jenny Haymes purchased the collection and entrusted it to the Ballaarat Mechanics Institute. “They are absolutely beautiful photographs of Ballarat – Max’s lifetime work as a photographer – he has about 3000-4000 photographs of very early Ballarat -some going right back to early settlement and right through into the 60s and 70s,” Mr Haymes said.
“We knew he wanted to sell it because he was getting to an age where you like to think of retiring and Jenny said to me it would be a shame to see it disappear, disperse, because there were a few people willing to buy it and then make something commercial, so we thought about it and we thought the ideal place for it to be housed would be at the Mechanics Institute, so that’s basically what we’ve done.
“It’s one thing to say yes and have it here and another to do something with it and the potential to do things with it is amazing.” To have the collection reach its potential David and Jenny have financed a curator to work on the collection for one day per week for 12 months so the project does not get bogged down and the photographs left sitting in boxes.
“We are quite excited about it,” Mr Haymes added.
“We didn’t really want to tell the world what we have done, we normally say nothing but the important thing is by us coming out , we hope to encourage other people to be philanthropic.” Jenny Haymes has been on the Board of the Ballaarat Mechanics Institute for around ten years and has seen restorations to the majestic building taking place over that time. “It’s hard to get people to come in and use the spaces and so forth, it’s very hard for us to finance, we don’t have enough money to get a manager or senior officer or what have you and there is always maintenance on the building and so forth so when Max’s collection came up for sale we gave it a lot of thought,” she said. “We have always admired this collection – I pushed for the purchase of the photos for the Mechanics Institute and I think it will encourage more people to come in and certainly create a lot of interest.”