Photographs: Tangier Then and Now

Europeans and Moroccans in front of Bab Dar Dbagh, ca. 1920
Europeans and Moroccans in front of Bab Dar Dbagh, ca. 1920

An exhibition in Rotch Library at MIT in Cambridge MA, features prints made from the glass negatives collection of the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM) in Morocco. The photographs, which have never been exhibited in the United States, date from roughly 1900 to 1930, a period that saw the city of Tangier undergoing a growth that has been unrivaled until recent decades. Not only is Tangier now seeing a radical transformation due to new construction and infrastructure improvements, but there is also a growing emphasis on historic preservation of the built environment. The exhibition highlights that by juxtaposing the older black and white images against more recent photographs of the places depicted.

The exhibition is hosted by the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT, and organized in collaboration with the Program in Middle Eastern Studies and the office of Career Education of Wellesley College, the parties collaborating to assist TALIM in the preservation of the glass negatives collection. In the summers between 2013 and 2016 interns from Wellesley College went to Tangier and scanned all 2,000 negatives in TALIM’s collection, creating high resolution surrogates so the originals could be placed in cold storage. A catalog of the full collection has been made available on Archnet.

The exhibition, curated by Michael A. Toler, Archnet Content Manager, opened on October 29th in Rotch Library (7-238) and will run through December 15th.  AKDC@MIT and Wellesley College’s Program in Middle Eastern Studies will host a reception on November 17th at 7:30 pm, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the TALIM Board and Fellows.

A similar exhibit featuring prints is planned for the Legation in Tangier once space is made available through completion of current repairs.  It will feature prints from the glass negatives, alongside photographs by John Zvereff from 1976-1977 when the Legation first opened as a museum, and contemporary photographs.  A virtual version of the exhibition will also appear on Archnet.

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