Francis Collection




The Francis Collection of pre-cinematic apparatus and ephemera was acquired by the Australian and Victorian Governments in 1975. It was assembled by David Francis, who is a British film archivist and academic. It contains over 5500 objects related to pre-cinema, including almost 5000 glass magic lantern slides. A complimentary collection of rare books on pre-cinema and early cinema history is held within the AFI Research Collection at RMIT's School of Media and Communication.

The Francis Collection contains over 5500 objects, images and documents related to precinema, which were the various forms of moving and projected images in existence before the advent of film in the late 19th Century. The collection was jointly acquired by the Australian Film Institute, a Federal Government agency, and the Victorian Government in 1975. The original aim was the establishment of a Museum of the Moving Image in Melbourne, with the Francis Collection as a important research and exhibition component.The collection had been assembled in Britain by David Francis, who was the curator of the National Film and Sound Archive of the British Film Institute as well as being a co-founder of the Museum of the Moving Image in London, which operated between 1988 and 1999. While plans for the museum were being devised, the artefact collection was housed in the basement of Museum Victoria in Swanston Street, Melbourne. A number of the objects were used in several temporary exhibitions, including the museum's own `Phantarama: Origins of Moving Pictures' in 1987-88. In the end, due to changing priorities of the AFI, the Museum of the Moving Image plan was scrapped, so the collection was accessioned in the collections of Museum Victoria in 1990.The second component of the Francis Collection was a library of rare books on pre-cinema and early cinema history, which was held in the AFI Research Library in Carlton. In 2002 the collection, including the Francis Collection library, was transferred to RMIT University, where it is known as the RMIT Research Collection, operating under the auspices of the School of Media and Communication.

Please direct access requests via Museum Victoria's Discovery Centre


1750-1900; Aboriginal People; Advertising; Animal Locomotion; Animation; Architecture; Art Galleries; Camera Obscuras; Children's Folklore; Children's Play; Cinematography; Death & Mourning; Decorative arts; Dioramas; Entertainment; Ethnic Groups; Games; Kaleidoscopes; Landscapes; Lantern Slides; Leisure; Magic Lanterns; Motion Picture Films; Movie Cameras; Natural history; Optical Amusements; Optical Apparatus & Instruments; Optical Illusion Devices; Optical Illusions; Optical Toys; Panoramas; Peepshows; Performers; Phantasmagoria; Phenakistiscopes; Phenakistoscope; Photography; Portraits; Praxinoscopes; Pre-Cinema Moving Images; Projection; Projectors; Recreation; Recreation Activities; Religions; Religious Instruction; Royalty; Stereographs; Stereoscopes; Thaumatropes; Toys; Traditional Costumes; Travel & Tourism; Zoetropes; Zograscopes

Coverage Spatial

Italy; Victoria, Australia; United Kingdom; France; Germany

Related Collections


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2011-03-31 18:32