Helen Ennis

Professor Emeritus Helen Ennis

  • Post Nominals: FAHA
  • Fellow Type: Fellow
  • Elected to the Academy: 2014
  • Section(s): Arts


Professor Ennis is internationally recognised as the foremost expert on Australian photographic history. Her career began at the National Gallery of Australia where she was appointed Curator of Photography in 1985 and pioneered a major series of scholarly exhibitions and publications. Her extensive publications and catalogues for national cultural institutions have been awarded numerous prizes. Her book ‘Margaret Michaelis: Love, Loss and Photography’ was awarded the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the AAANZ Book Prize in 2006. Her curatorial work has deepened an understanding of Australian visual culture inquiry by relating it to a wider social and cultural history. She is currently the Director of the Centre for Art History and Art Theory at the Australian National University (ANU) School of Art and the Sir William Dobell Chair of Art History.

Professor Ennis is an art historian and independent curator specialising in Australian photographic history. She joined the National Gallery of Australia in 1981 and was Curator of Photography from 1985-92. She was appointed to the Art Theory Workshop at ANU School of Art in 1996 and is convenor of the School’s Graduate Research program. She has curated numerous exhibitions for national cultural institutions and has published extensively. Curatorial projects since 2000 include ‘Things: Photographing the Constructed World: A Modern Vision: Charles Bayliss, Photographer 1850-97’; and the two-part exhibition ‘In a New Light: Australian Photography 1850s-2000’ (National Library of Australia); ‘Reveries: Photography and Mortality and Mirror with a Memory: Photographic Portraiture in Australia’ (both for the National Portrait Gallery); and a retrospective exhibition of Olive Cotton’s photographs (Art Gallery of New South Wales). Books include ‘Photography and Australia’, and ‘Intersections: Photography, History and the National Library’, as well as monographs on Margaret Michaelis and Wolfgang Sievers.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.