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Karsh: Image Maker

Karsh: Image Maker

This exhibition, which received the 2010 CMA Award for Outstanding Achievement recognizing it as an exceptional museum project, is organized by the Portrait Gallery of Canada, a program of Library and Archives Canada, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Karsh: Image Maker Camera

Karsh: Image Maker features celebrated and lesser known portraits; personal and business papers; published books and magazines; and studio and darkroom equipment. Many of the items have never been seen before in a public exhibition.

Karsh: Image Maker

Karsh: Image Maker also breaks new ground by reaching out to a broad, multigenerational audience with interactive elements that introduce Karsh to a new and receptive public

Recognized as one of the leading portrait photographers of his time, Yousuf Karsh created compelling illusions through intensely crafted images and the stories he wove around them. While Karsh described simply capturing an elusive “moment of truth” in his photographs, his signature style was the result of many meticulous artistic and technical decisions. This exhibition showcases some of his most famous photographs, while exploring the work behind the scenes.

As the centrepiece of Ottawa’s Festival Karsh, the exhibition was on view at the Canada Science and Technology Museum from June to September 2009. From January to May 2010 it was exhibited at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. It is now available to tour in a third and final venue until 2012.

For an interactive online preview of the exhibition, please visit: festivalkarsh.ca

Download Karsh: Image Maker Travelling Exhibition (PDF 297Kb)

Technical Specifications

Target Audience
  • Tourists
  • Art and culture enthusiasts
  • Families with children
  • All texts are presented in a bilingual format (English/French)
Dates Available
  • January 2011 to March 2012
  • Exhibition duration: 3 to 6 months
Exhibition Components
  • 5 thematic zones:
    • Becoming Karsh
    • In the Studio
    • The Portrait Studio (immersive)
    • Theatre of Personality
    • Karsh Lab
  • Over 100 original photographic prints and 38 facsimile manuscripts from the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Karsh fonds
  • 34 studio and darkroom artifacts from the Canada Science and Technology Museum (CSTM)
  • Arnaud Maggs’ photographic work: “48 views of Yousuf Karsh” (LAC)
  • 1 CBC film (approximately 3 minutes)
  • Self-contained modular wall systems and display cases
  • 1 interactive immersive portrait studio complete with a large format 8” x 10” studio camera, lighting, controls and computer to permit visitors to capture and email a portrait
  • 4 mechanical interactive stations for children ages 3 to 6: including a Magnetic Karsh and a Peek-a-boo Wall (optional)
  • Bilingual (English/French) texts with graphics, labels and captions
  • Exhibition installation manual and lighting plan, and collections condition reports
  • Also available is the award-winning video Karsh is History (2009), suitable for screening in a theatre or auditorium
Space Requirement
  • 445 square metres (4,800 square feet)
Environmental Control Requirements
  • Lighting of less than 50 lux for sensitive, and under 150 lux for moderately sensitive materials. All natural light should be excluded where required
  • Temperature levels for display are between 18 and 22 °C, with gradual seasonal adjustments
  • Relative humidity is maintained at 45%-50%, with gradual daily fluctuations ± 5%
Security Requirements
  • One security guard dedicated to the exhibition during all public hours
  • Borrowers must provide an insurance certificate
  • 12 crates with collection material (approximately 1565 kg and 10.54 cubic metres)
  • 5 cases with collection material (approximately 206 kg and 1.59 cubic metres)
  • 13 packages with Studio Equipment (approximately 264 kg and 4.88 cubic metres)
  • 2 crates and 15 skids with exhibition infrastructure, walls (approximately 7018 kg and 71.30 cubic metres)
  • $25,000 (CAD) exhibition fee
  • One way transportation
  • International venues pay the exhibition fee plus in-coming and out-going shipping and related brokerage fees


Wanda McWilliams

Manager, Conservation Strategies and Loans
Library and Archives Canada
Tel.: 613-947-4471
Fax: 613- 995-0179

Feuillet d’information également disponible en français