The dream of progress. The evolution of the photographic archive of the Museum – from the 17thof July of 2015 to the 10th of January of 2016.
The Catalonia Railway Museum has inventoried, restored, digitised and catalogued his photographic archive in the last years. For the celebration of its 25 years, we want to present this valuable collection. The collection has a double intention, at the same time that it exposes a selection of 50 pictures divided in five fields for the first time, it also serves as a homage to the unknown and passionate development of the railway photography and its first professionals.
This year, the book and catalogue of this exhibition ‘The dream of progress’ has been edited by the Museum, apart from expanding and going into detail about the archive it gives it value by offering 125 pictures, most of them unpublished.
The photographic archives guarded by the Catalonia Railway Museum are formed by more than 10.000 images. Most of themare black and white photographs that come from the archives of the main railway companies.The older images correspond to the collection that the Railway Company from Madrid to Zaragoza and Alicante (MZA) started on the 1920s. Some of their pictures come from collections of other railway companies that MZA incorporated to his own archives when MZA absorbed them during a process of progressive fusions that took place on the last third of the 19th century. This process culminated on 1941 when all companies were nationalised and the company Renfe was created, this company gathered all the railway companies of broad gauge.
Of all the collections that the Museum preserves, the most important for its volume, quality and structure, was developed during the middle of the 20th century, when the Electric Service department of Renfe was conscious of the practical importance of possessing a graphic documentary archive of the installations and infrastructures that allowed them a better knowledge of their distribution in the territory. The thematic typology of all these photographs is very wide, although the station and the building of travellers, in concrete, are the most characteristic elements. Part of the Exposition has been dedicated to its genesis and typological evolution, another part speaks about bridges and tunnels, the most attractive brickwork constructions. The railway portrait, most of the time anecdotal or casual, has acquired over time a higher value, becoming the main visual reference of the image. A special chapter is dedicated to Francesc Ribera Colomer, a photographer of exceptional quality. Most of the pictures come from his professional camera. Finally, we want to present with more detail the Electric Service archive, on which the thickness of the photographic collection of this cultural equipment is articulated.