A joint project of the Russian Museum of Ethnography and ROSPHOTO, Images of Empire: Photography at the All-Russian Ethnographic Exhibition of 1867, is dedicated to the unprecedented public presentation of anthropological and ethnographic images of the peoples of the Russian Empire at the All-Russian Ethnographic Exhibition of 1867

The project is based on a unique photographic collection held by the Russian Museum of Ethnography, unparalleled in the world and still unfamiliar to many specialists and the public.

The All-Russian Ethnographic Exhibition, held in Moscow in 1867, gave a powerful impulse to the development of photography in Russia and establishment of ethnographic photography as a branch of its own. The unique photographs exhibited at the 1867 Ethnographic Exhibition laid the foundation for a visual chronicle of the traditional culture of the peoples of Russia.

For the first time, more than 1500 photographs from 40 provinces and regions of the Russian Empire representing cultures of 44 peoples and ethnic groups, were shown to the public within the Photographs, Albums and Drawings section.

Unprecedentedly in Russian history, this large-scale exhibition was not centered around nobles: the majority of the portraits on display depicted ordinary people. Among the contributors were many researchers and photographers who made themselves known to such a wide audience for the first time. They were M. F. Kustsinsky, an antiquities enthusiast; Baron B. Brandis; Brzhozovsky’s photographic studio, artists Straus and Okolokov from Vilna; photographer A. A. Borhardt; artist I. N. Brandenburg; OLEAE member P. F. Simonenko, and others. Renowned masters of photography, such as N. M. Alasin and B. Barro, also took part in the exhibition.

The daily life and customs of the peoples of the Caucasus and Transcaucasia were represented by the works of photographers and topographers of the General Staff of the Caucasian Army (the majority of photographs coming from there bear a corresponding stamp). Currently, the Russian Museum of Ethnography keeps a significant part of the photographs shown at the Ethnographic Exhibition in 1867, about 1000 items.

Part of this collection will be on display at ROSPHOTO in autumn 2022.

Last updated on 25.07.2022