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Exhibition showcases historic collection of early BC photographs for the first time
Frederick Dally, Colonial Hote l from “Views of British Columbia” album, albumen print (UL # 1001). Courtesy University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Special Collection, Uno Langmann Family Collection of BC Photographs.

VANCOUVER, BC.- A new exhibition of historic photography at Presentation House Gallery explores the dramatic changes taking place in British Columbia from 1860 to the early twentieth century, as the colonial territory on the west coast of North America joined Canada and entered an era of rapid transformation. Opening on March 30th, NANITCH: Early Photographs of British Columbia from the Langmann Collection showcases publicly for the first time hundreds of photographs and other materials from UBC Library’s spectacular Uno Langmann Family Collection of BC Photographs.

The Langmann Collection was donated to UBC by prominent Vancouver gallerist and businessman Uno Langmann and his wife Dianne, and the Uno Langmann Ltd. Mr. Langmann spent decades gathering thousands of rare early photographs of BC for his private collection. Now the public will have the opportunity to see a selection of these photographs and other objects, including stereocards, glass negatives and rare albums from the first nineteenth century government expeditions in the province. Key photographers working in the BC during this period are highlighted, including Frederick Dally, Charles Horetzky, Ben W. Leeson, Charles Mcmunn, Hannah and Richard Maynard, and Edward Curtis.

NANITCH means “to look and watch” in Chinook Jargon — a trade language common in the Pacific Northwest. The exhibition brings focus to the significant role of the camera in colonization and calls on viewers to question colonialist narratives of progress. NANITCH emphasizes the contradictions of settlement and asks viewers to look more closely at BC’s complex social and political history. Included are early photographic albums documenting official land surveys, family portraits, industrial ventures, and Indigenous peoples and their displacement.

The innovative and dynamic display of eclectic photographic material shows how the official activities of nineteenth-century working photographers using large-format cameras evolved with the introduction of amateur cameras and mass distribution of promotional photography.

"We are honoured to partner with UBC Library in mounting an exhibition drawn from the Langmann Collection, one of the most significant and comprehensive surveys of historical British Columbia photography,” says Reid Shier, Director of Presentation House Gallery.

“It is fitting that the first look at this extraordinary collection takes place during UBC’s centennial, a time to reflect on the University’s history,“ says Ingrid Parent, University Librarian for the institution. “Collaborations like this with Presentation House Gallery enhance our commitment to community engagement and lifelong learning, teaching, and research.”

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