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Lights! Camera! Personality! Karsh of Ottawa Collection

Introduction

In 1997 Jerry Fielder contacted the then-director of the Collection and Research Division of the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Geoff Rider, with an offer of a donation. Each year the Museum receives several hundred offers from across Canada, yet Geoff immediately recognized that this was not an average proposal. Since 1979 Jerry had been a curator and an assistant to prominent Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh.

(Fig.1)
Yousuf Karsh with his camera during a donation ceremony at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, 17 April 1998

When, five years earlier, Yousuf and Estrellita Karsh closed down their Chateau Laurier studio in Ottawa and moved to Boston, they donated prints and negatives to the National Archives of Canada. Now, the photographer had decided that it was only appropriate to offer his studio equipment to the Canada Science and Technology Museum, and Jerry had been given the task of arranging the donation. On 17 April 1998 Yousuf Karsh presented the Museum’s chairman with one of his lenses—the lens that he used in 1941 to take his famous photograph of Winston Churchill. With this symbolic gesture, Karsh transferred the ownership of his photographic equipment to the Museum.

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