MICHAEL’S CAMERA MUSEUM
While it is sad when an Australian institution closes, in the case of this fabulous assemblage, it means that collectors and museums all over the world will be able to add a rare piece of history to their own collections. Truly, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The Michael family has traded from the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets in Melbourne’s CBD since 1916.
The Managing Director is Peter Michael, whose great-grandfather erected the Michaels Building in 1916 and traded as a pawnbroker and gunsmith. In 1928, Peter’s grandfather opened a pharmacy in the building with limited stocks of photographic equipment. Peter’s father, Alan joined the family pharmacy business in 1950, and later graduated as a pharmacist himself.
Alan’s fascination for photography led to the expansion of the photo department in the store. At the time, there were tight import restrictions on cameras from after the war until the late 1950s. By 1966, the business traded primarily as a pharmacy and expanded, taking over a significant amount of the ground floor of the building and basement storage.
By 1976, the photographic side of the business represented 80 per cent of total turnover. The Michael family closed the pharmacy section to concentrate solely on photographics, eventually expanding to operate from three whole floors.
Although situated in one location, the business size is the equivalent of five or so specialty camera outlets. It achieved this status primarily due to the enormous range and depth of stock kept and the knowledge of employees and their attention to providing a very high level of customer service.
In 1988, 1997 and again in 2012, Michaels Camera Video & Digital was awarded the prestigious “Australian Photographic Dealer of the Year” award. The award is judged by a panel of industry experts and is based on criteria such as staff expertise, range of stock, store cleanliness, quality of window displays and presentation and adherence to high business principles. The Michaels building expanded into the two adjacent buildings on Elizabeth Street and Lonsdale Street, and spans 220sqm offering a state of the art photographic retail environment and Australia’s largest range of stock.