Visit a New Digital Archive of 2.2 Million Images from the First Hundred Years of Photography

Loya: Val­ley of the Yosemite (The Sen­tinel), c. 1867 – c. 1872. Ead­weard Muy­bridge. Rijksmu­se­um. Pub­lic Domain.

Inter­est­ed in pho­tog­ra­phy? You’re in the right place. Over the years, we’ve com­piled free class­es on dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy, hun­dreds of pho­tog­ra­phy lec­tures, cours­es on pho­tog­ra­phy appre­ci­a­tion, and doc­u­men­taries on famous greats like Alfred Stieglitz, Diane Arbus, Edward West­on, and Hen­ri Carti­er-Bres­son. You can learn the his­to­ry of pho­tog­ra­phy in “five ani­mat­ed min­utes,” see the ven­er­a­ble art of tin­type recre­at­ed, and vis­it archives from the Sovi­et Union, the col­lec­tion of George East­man, and the work of pio­neer­ing motion pho­tog­ra­ph­er Ead­weard Muy­bridge (ani­mat­ed in 93 GIFs).

Still not enough? How about a dig­i­tal library of 2.2 mil­lion images from the his­to­ry of pho­tog­ra­phy? Euro­peana Col­lec­tions just launched its “lat­est the­mat­ic col­lec­tion,” Euro­peana Pho­tog­ra­phy, which, notes Dou­glas McCarthy at the site’s blog, “includes images and doc­u­ments from 50 Euro­pean insti­tu­tions in 34 dif­fer­ent coun­tries.”

Stun­ning land­scapes like that of Muybridge’s Loya: Val­ley of the Yosemite, above, and work from oth­er inno­va­tors like Julia Mar­garet Cameron, below, rep­re­sent high­lights of the archive’s dig­i­tal scans from the first 100 years of pho­tog­ra­phy.

Lilie, 1898–1903. Wil­helm Weimar. Muse­um für Kun­st und Gewerbe Ham­burg, CC0

The col­lec­tion promis­es, “future exhi­bi­tions on spe­cif­ic themes… telling com­pelling sto­ries with stun­ning images.” Cur­rent­ly, you’ll find there themed “expo­si­tions” like “Indus­tri­al Pho­tog­ra­phy in the Machine Age” and “Vin­tage Post­cards of South­east­ern Europe,” among oth­ers. A gallery on “The Mag­ic Lantern” offers a tour of a pre-cin­e­ma enter­tain­ment tech­nol­o­gy. One on pho­tog­ra­ph­er Johan Wil­helm Weimar intro­duces view­ers to incred­i­bly strik­ing work from his 1901 Herbar­i­um.

The col­lec­tion is search­able, down­load­able, share­able, and you can choose from 23 dif­fer­ent lan­guages, includ­ing Eng­lish. Its mis­sion is inter­na­tion­al, but also very much built on the idea—some might say polit­i­cal fiction—of a cul­tur­al­ly uni­fied Europe, allow­ing peo­ple to “con­nect with their past, with fel­low Euro­pean cit­i­zens, explore remote eras and loca­tions, and bet­ter appre­ci­ate the val­ue of their con­ti­nen­tal, nation­al and local cul­tur­al her­itage.”

Grand Canal, Venice, 1929. Nico­la Per­scheid. Muse­um für Kun­st und Gewerbe Ham­burg, CC0

Lofty goals, but one need no such larg­er pur­pose to sim­ply enjoy casu­al­ly brows­ing, and mak­ing the kind of odd dis­cov­er­ies one might on a con­ti­nen­tal walk­ing tour, with no par­tic­u­lar des­ti­na­tion in mind.

Vis­it the Euro­peana Pho­tog­ra­phy archive here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Thou­sands of Pho­tos from the George East­man Muse­um, the World’s Old­est Pho­tog­ra­phy Col­lec­tion, Now Avail­able Online

Down­load 437 Issues of Sovi­et Pho­to Mag­a­zine, the Sovi­et Union’s His­toric Pho­tog­ra­phy Jour­nal (1926–1991)

School of Visu­al Arts Presents 99 Hours of Free Pho­tog­ra­phy Lec­tures

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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