Vancouver, BC – A new exhibition of historic photography at Presentation House Gallery explores the dramatic changes taking place in British Columbia from 1860 to the early twentieth century, as the colonial territory on the west coast of North America joined Canada and entered an era of rapid transformation. Opening on March 30thNANITCH: Early Photographs of British Columbia from the Langmann Collection showcases publicly for the first time hundreds of photographs and other materials from UBC Library’s spectacular Uno Langmann Family Collection of BC Photographs.

The Langmann Collection was donated to UBC by prominent Vancouver gallerist and businessman Uno Langmann and his wife Dianne and the Uno Langmann Ltd. Mr. Langmann spent decades gathering thousands of rare early photographs of BC for his private collection. Now the public will have the opportunity to see a selection of these photographs and other objects, including stereocards, glass negatives and rare albums from the first nineteenth century government expeditions in the province. Key photographers working in the BC during this period are highlighted, including Frederick Dally, Charles Horetzky, Ben W. Leeson, Charles Mcmunn, Hannah and Richard Maynard, and Edward Curtis.

NANITCH means “to look and watch” in Chinook Jargon — a trade language common in the Pacific Northwest. The exhibition brings focus to the significant role of the camera in colonization and calls on viewers to question colonialist narratives of progress. NANITCH emphasizes the contradictions of settlement and asks viewers to look more closely at BC’s complex social and political history. Included are early photographic albums documenting official land surveys, family portraits, industrial ventures, and Indigenous peoples and their displacement.

The innovative and dynamic display of eclectic photographic material shows how the official activities of nineteenth-century working photographers using large-format cameras evolved with the introduction of amateur cameras and mass distribution of promotional photography.

“We are honoured to partner with UBC Library in mounting an exhibition drawn from the Langmann Collection, one of the most significant and comprehensive surveys of historical British Columbia photography,” says Reid Shier, Director of Presentation House Gallery.

“It is fitting that the first look at this extraordinary collection takes place during UBC’s centennial, a time to reflect on the University’s history,“ says Ingrid Parent, University Librarian for the institution. “Collaborations like this with Presentation House Gallery enhance our commitment to community engagement and lifelong learning, teaching, and research.”

NANITCH: Early Photographs of British Columbia from the Langmann Collection runs March 30 to June 26, 2016 with an official exhibition opening on Saturday, April 16 at 7:30 pm, sponsored by Gale: Cengage Learning. NANITCH is accompanied by an illustrated publication with interpretive essays. The exhibition and publication are part of UBC Library’s Centennial programme.

Special public programs related to the exhibition include:

Monday, April 18, 7:30 pm, “Gold Nuggets and Silver Salts: The Photographic Legacy of Frederick Dally”, lecture by Joan Schwartz, Professor, History of Photography and Visual Culture, and Head, Department of Art History and Art Conservation at Queen’s University, Kingston

Thursday, May 12, 7:30 pm, Exhibition tour with collector Uno Langmann

About Presentation House Gallery

Presentation House Gallery is one of Canada’s most honoured public galleries of photography and media art. The Gallery emphasizes contemporary Canadian work within a context of historical and international art, and has presented exhibitions on a wide range of themes over its 40-year history. Located in North Vancouver, the Gallery is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm to 5pm. Admission is by donation.

About UBC Library

UBC Library advances research, learning and teaching excellence by connecting communities within and beyond the University of British Columbia to the world’s knowledge. The Library, a high-ranking member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), has 15 branches and divisions, and is the largest academic library in British Columbia. Its collections include more than seven million volumes, over 2 million e-books, and more than 920,000 maps, audio, video and graphic materials.



For interviews or more information, please contact:
Carolyn Jack for Presentation House Gallery, cell: 604-970-3234;
Linda Ong for UBC Library, 604-827-4831 or 778-991-5315;

Media may download a selection of exhibition images using this Dropbox link: Media Images

Ingrid Parent and Uno Langmann

Library Advisory Board member Haig Farris, University Librarian Ingrid Parent, Dr. Uno Langmann, UBC Chancellor Lindsay Gordon

During the May 22 spring convocation ceremony, the University of British Columbia conferred art and antiques dealer Uno Langmann with an honorary doctorate degree. Dr. Langmann donated over 18,000 rare and unique early photographs and books from the 1850s to the 1950s to UBC Library in 2014, forming the Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs.

The donation is considered to be a premiere private collection of early provincial photos in a wide variety of formats and genres, including albums, diaries, portraits, landscapes and city/townscapes. 

A First Nations family appear outside a dwelling (c. 1915-1925). Photograph: Uno Langmann Family Collection

A First Nations family appear outside a dwelling (c. 1915-1925)

In his speech, Dr. Langmann noted his choice of profession was guided by a love for history. With a personal collection of books containing over 12,000 titles, his donation to UBC was fueled by the sincere belief that the library is the backbone of any University and that this special collection would help elevate UBC’s reputation as one of the best institutions. Langmann advised the graduates before him to “use the finest computer yet developed, your brain,” adding that, “luck favours the prepared mind.”

The photographs in the Uno Langmann BC Historical Photograph Collection are preserved in our archives and have been mostly digitized and made public on the Library website. As of this month, there are now 55 albums available for exploration. Additionally, Library users are able to request an in-person viewing of items from the collection through UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections.

detail of Greek epigraphic squeeze

Detail of Greek epigraphic squeeze.

In this month’s issue of LibFOCUS, we highlight British Columbia with features on two newly digitized albums from the Langmann Collection and a behind-the-scenes look at how the Library’s Digitization Centre supports unique province-wide projects.


UBC Library’s Spring Update in the BCLA Browser features updates on the launch of the much-loved Videomatica film collection; the donation of the exceptional Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs;  the latest winner of the Innovative Dissemination of Research Award; and more.

The BCLA Browser is the online, open access publication of the British Columbia Library Association.

image of bridge

The Alexander Suspension Bridge, from the Uno Langmann Collection.

The latest issue of LibFOCUS highlights special collections and unique resources, including photo collections, rare books and maps. Highlights include the recently donated Uno Langmann Collection of B.C. Photographs, a tribute to longtime Library employee and supporter Suzanne Dodson, and more.


marching band drummer 

A captivating collection of projects highlighting the stories and histories of British Columbia will soon be available for online viewing, thanks to the B.C. History Digitization Program (BCHDP).

The program, launched by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre in 2006, provides matching grants to support projects that make B.C. heritage freely accessible to the public via the Internet. This year, about $200,000 in matching funds was allocated for 23 projects throughout the province. In total, the BCHDP has awarded more than $1.4 million for 167 grants over the past eight years.

This year’s highlights include a project to digitize 15,300 photos and postcards from the Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs, dating from the 1850s to the 1950s. Uno and Dianne Langmann recently donated this exceptional collection to UBC Library.

Meanwhile, the B.C. Dairy Historical Society will scan bound volumes of Butter-Fat, a magazine originally published by the the Fraser Valley Milk Producers’ Association. The effort covers issues published from 1923 to 1994 that chronicle the development of dairy history and pioneer families in British Columbia.

Other efforts involve the digitization of more than 11,000 pages of hand-written Chinese language documents at Barkerville, the digital photography of nearly 2,500 fashion accessories at the Museum of Vancouver, the digitization of colonial despatches and provincial newspapers, and much more.

For a map and comprehensive listing of 2014 projects, please visit the Learning Centre’s site.

Top image from a Royal Roads Military College (RRMC) annual photo album; albums were digitized in 2013, thanks to a BDHDP grant and matching funds from the Royal Roads University Military Heritage Committee and the Friends of Hatley Park. For more, please view the albums online




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