Looking Abroad: Photography, Tourism, and Empire, 1870-1920

An online exhibition of photographs and books from Archives & Special Collections
Western Washington University Libraries

About the exhibition

There is an old saying that the camera never lies. We all know it isn’t true, and yet every day, we encounter photographs—in the news, in social media, in marketing—which we do not ask enough questions of, and which may be misleading.

Through exploring the larger social and political context of photographs created as tourist souvenirs or to promote travel at the height of Western colonialism, this exhibition is an an opportunity to practice viewing photos with a critical eye. Why were these pictures created? What are your initial assumptions about the people or places portrayed? Does more information fundamentally change the way you see the images? Whether you are looking at photographs from long ago or just yesterday, these are important questions to ask.

The exhibition is available for viewing in Special Collections (Wilson 6th floor) from October 24, 2022 to June 9, 2023. Hours: Monday through Friday from 11:00am to 4:00pm or by appointment (closed weekends and holidays). 

For more information or to inquire about bringing classes and other groups to view the exhibit, please contact Michael Taylor at taylo213@wwu.edu or (360) 650-3097.


Exhibition curated by Michael Taylor, Special Collections Librarian and Associate Professor

Content warning

This exhibition contains images that some viewers may find disturbing. Western Libraries' Division of Archives & Special Collections aims to foster academic dialogue and contextualize its collections of historical material in a respectful manner. We welcome feedback on any issues of concern. Please contact us at speccoll@wwu.edu.