What's On

Your guide to everything in North East

Last chance to see the Victorian selfies that stormed the internet from Woodhorn

Retronaut: The Photographic Time Machine, which gained fans from all over the world will close at the Ashington attraction on February 22

Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives Victorian funny face lantern slides
Victorian funny face lantern slides

AN exhibition of ‘Victorian Selfies’ at Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn, will close on Sunday February 22 having entertained and captured the interest of millions around the world.

Set up as part of a project to increase audience engagement with historic photographic collections held at the popular attraction in Ashington, the resulting exhibition: Retronaut: The Photographic Time Machine, featured a series of funny-faced Victorian portraits which went on to capture the imaginations of people in 30 different countries as the images went viral.

“Research just a few weeks after the launch of the exhibition showed that close to 3.4 million internet users had received a message, viewed a news item or seen an image connected with the “Victorian selfies” as they became known,” explained Woodhorn director Keith Merrin.

Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives Left: Formal Victorian group - apart from the man in the lady's hat; Right, an image from the building of Catcleugh reservoir in Northumberland
Left: Formal Victorian group - apart from the man in the lady's hat; Right, an image from the building of Catcleugh reservoir in Northumberland

“A stunning 47,624 people then went on to engage with the images by commenting on them, sharing them with friends and liking them etc on social media. And we know the images are still being talked about, which is fantastic. ”

One of the main purposes of the project, made possible with funding from The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund and run by the Museums Association, was to make collections available to new audiences and find new ways to do it.

The Retronaut, otherwise known as Chris Wild, was engaged as a guest curator last year and the project has seen not just the physical exhibition at Woodhorn, but the development of a Flickr photography stream for Museums & Archives Northumberland (Woodhorn and the Archive’s parent trust), increased activity on social media and use of Northumberland Archive Images through Retronaut’s website and social media channels.

Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives Left: A group of young women in formal Victorian pose; Right: A Coal Board promotional image of a miner washing in a tin bath
Left: A group of young women in formal Victorian pose; Right: A Coal Board promotional image of a miner washing in a tin bath

“The exhibition at Woodhorn has also been a great hit with visitors,” explained Keith. “People have really enjoyed seeing these photographic gems: images that seem not to belong to the time when they were created.

“We hope that people will take advantage of next week’s (half term) holiday period to visit Woodhorn and see these thought-provoking photographs in large format. Perhaps they’ll even take home a souvenir bearing the face of one of our much-loved Victorians.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer