Celebrating William Notman’s artistic legacy at Canadian Museum of History

GATINEAU, Quebec — On November 23, the Canadian Museum of History opens an exhibition inviting visitors into the world of pioneering 19th-century Canadian photographer William Notman.

His achievements as a bold businessman, networker, artist and builder have left a legacy that remains impressive today.

Discover the fascinating story of the man behind the camera and explore his work in Notman, Visionary Photographer.

Produced by Montréal’s McCord Museum, the exhibition features some 300 photographs and objects, drawn primarily from the McCord’s own collection, which highlight Notman’s struggles and successes.

“The Museum is proud to partner with the McCord Museum to offer its visitors an entirely new look at William Notman, one of the greatest photographers of his era and the first in Canada to gain an international reputation,” said Jean-Marc Blais, Director General of the Canadian Museum of History. “His exceptional body of work gives us an opportunity to explore and understand the social and political realities of Canada in the 19th century.”

After immigrating to Canada from Scotland in 1856, at the age of 30, Notman was quick to blur the line between photography and painting. He also democratized portraiture and paved the way for creative manipulation of photographic images. Known for his portraits, as well as landscapes of locations from east to west, he also built the most extensive network of photography studios in 19th century North America.

The exhibition explores the 65 years of Notman’s life through four main themes, each inspired by an aspect of his personality. The result is a rich portrait of Canada during Victorian times, as well as a celebration of the innovative spirit and talent of an artist who helped shape the era.

Notman, Visionary Photographer is the first-ever retrospective featuring the work of William Notman. It won numerous distinctions, including awards from the Société des musées du Québec, the Canadian Museums Association and the International Design and Communications Awards.

The exhibition will be presented at the Canadian Museum of History from November 23, 2018 to April 14, 2019.

Canadian Museum of History

Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Canadian Museum of History welcomes over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum’s principal role is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the events, experiences, people and objects that have shaped Canada’s history and identity, as well as to enhance Canadians’ awareness of world history and culture. Work of the Canadian Museum of History is made possible in part through financial support of the Government of Canada.