In the 19th century, Europeans gaped en masse at exotic people. The first photographs of Indians, Eskimos, aboriginals and other unknown people appeared in popular magazines and books. Towards the end of that century, these men and women could also be seen in real life, exhibited in zoos, museums or circuses. Scientists too were interested in these photographs and exhibitions, allowing them to study foreign people up close without having to make long voyages. The Ethnographic Museum collected photographs and objects to further scientific research.
Nowadays, we look at the Ethnographic Museum’s collection of old anthropological photographs from another point of view. And we then see how Europeans perceived foreign people between 1860 and 1920. The 19th century photographs have left an indelible mark on Western civilization and that is why they are still so alive. Those who go somewhat deeper into these photographs and their backgrounds obtain a better understanding of existing ideas and misconceptions and prejudices regarding other cultures.