PARK CITY, Utah. — For those interested in history and photojournalism, a must-see exhibit on the pioneer of documentary photography, Jacob Riis, is open now through Jan. 7 at the Park City Museum. Riis is well-known for his book “How the Other Half Lives,” which exposed the abhorrent living conditions of New York City’s most destitute neighborhoods in the 1880s. TownLift spoke to Dalton Gackle, the museum’s Research, Digital Services, and Social Media Coordinator about what the exhibit brings to local and out-of-town visitors.
“The exhibit gives a sense of the daily struggles that people go through, but more narrowly, makes light of issues related to housing conditions and affordable housing–problems we still see around the country today,” Gackle said. “We have an affordable housing and rent issue in Park City for the people who want to work here, especially seasonal workers and J-1s who have to group together in rentals to be able to live here, but also for many of the people who keep our Park City businesses and government running year-round.”
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The innovative flash technology Riis used to take portraits of his subjects in low light conditions as well as his career as a journalist-turned-spokesperson for immigration, public health and housing is all covered in this traveling exhibit made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities initiative “NEH on the Road.” Riis’ documentary approach to representing human suffering through a combination of words and images served as evidence to inspire change and set the stage for future documentary photographers and journalists.
“Photographs are an incredible resource for several reasons,” Gackle said. “They show perspective and reveal bias of the photo-takers, they help give context to written or spoken accounts, and many people are visual learners, so having images (and objects) helps to connect some people to the history better than words.”
Jacob Riis’ stories of an invisible group of people and their living situations influenced change at the national level for urban poverty and housing reform—this is an exhibit you won’t want to miss.
The Park City Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum will be open on Monday and Tuesday the week of Christmas (Dec. 21 and 22) and New Years (Dec. 28 and 29). High-risk patrons can also make appointments to visit on Friday mornings at 10 a.m. The museum is offering free entrance every Friday and Sunday in December (but will be closed on Christmas).