Wednesday 13 September 2017

National Library launches Photo Detectives exhibiton

A new exhibition – Photo Detectives – has opened this afternoon at the National Library of Ireland's Nationl Photographic Archive (NPA) in Temple Bar, Dublin. It is the National Library's first community-sourced exhibition of photographs and stories.

This community sourcing dates back to June 2011 when the National Library (NLI) joined the Flickr Commons to give wider exposure to its images and to encourage the public to help find out more about its photographs by adding comments, descriptions and tags. Contributors from around the globe have acted as virtual detectives and have helped to identify locations and people, established dates and provided context and background information for thousands of photos in the NLI’s collections over the past six years.

The new exhibition includes 26 striking images and stories dating from 1871 to 1970. They reveal almost a century of changing Irish lives, including weddings in Waterford, family holidays in Donegal, the footing of turf in Antrim, and royal visitors to Kilkenny Castle. One particular highlight is a large-scale image of the shopfront of Mortimer’s shop in Waterford, captured in 1916, from the NLI’s Poole Collection. Through interactions with online contributors, it was discovered that the Poole Photographic Studio had scratched out reflections in Mortimer’s window – an early form of photoshopping. The exact address of the shop and the name of the child standing in its doorway were also discovered through online detective work.

Formally launching the exhibition, Sabina Higgins, wife of the President of IreIand, Michael D Higgins, said: “We photograph and document so many moments of our lives online now, but it is important that we keep alive the stories and traditions of life in Ireland before the digital age. It is a testament to the Library and its staff for always looking for innovative ways to do that. Photo Detectives is a wonderful example of using technology to give life to old photos and share their stories.”

Photo Detectives is free to visit, and is open seven days weekly: Monday to Saturday 10am–5pm and Noon–5pm on Sundays. The exhibition runs in the NPA until September 2018.

For more information, visit