Photo Detectives: An exhibition of community-researched Irish photo history

Photo Detectives: An exhibition of community-researched Irish photo history
by Allan LEONARD
6 January 2018

Photo Detectives is an exhibition by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) at its National Photographic Archive site in Dublin, of a set of archive images that online Flickr users have assisted with research and providing illuminating further information.

The exhibition was launched last autumn and is described by Dr Sandra Collins (Director, NLI) in a video for the Irish Times:

“When a photo is taken, the person who is taken the photo knows exactly where they are, who’s in the photo, what they’re trying to say with that photo. But decades later, that memory can be lost. In our collections, we have the photo, but we don’t have the story behind it. What we can do through this exhibition is add those memories back.

“It’s like a detective story. We’re able to recreate the background, the story, what that photo is trying to tell.”

The detective work is aided by Flickr users who can visit the NLI photostream and provide comments on any image. The invitation is somewhat buried in the last paragraph of the ‘About’ page:

“Meanwhile, we positively welcome your comments on any items in our photostream. Dating and location information that we’ve already received is just brilliant! Please feel free to add tags or notes.”

The National Library of Ireland joined The Commons at Flickr in June 2011, which is a programme with objectives of increasing access to publicly-held photography collections and providing a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge.

Photo Detectives exhibition. National Library of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.

NLI’s images cover the island of Ireland, including the province of Ulster (although only two are in the exhibition: “Beside the Seaside” (Bundoran, Co. Donegal) and “Footing the Turf” (Rasharkin, Co. Antrim)).

The exhibition itself is well presented, with concise annotations of each image and how further details were discovered. The range of subjects is broad, from those who served in the First World War, labourers, survivors of the Lusitania, school children, fashion models, and Travellers.

Collins finished her video introduction by saying that the exhibition will be refreshed with new images, those with fresh discoveries by “Flickroonies”. Feel free to be a part of it!


Republished at Northern Slant:

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