Exhibit of early 20th century photos will run until Jan. 30

The country as it was in 1922 is on display via photos by one of the nation’s pioneer photo documentalists.

The 35 photos of buildings that still exist and some that do not will be on display until Jan. 30. The location is the Centro Internacional para la Conservación del Patrimonio on the San José downtown pedestrian mall.

The Centro is an agency of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

The photographer is Manuel Gómez Miralles, who lived from 1876 to 1965. From his extensive inventory, completely documented and annotated, he seems to have taken photos of every interesting building, event and disaster in the country for years. Many of his works are on glass plates, the technology of the time. They are in assorted archives, including those at theUniversity de Costa Rica, the Centro and private holdings.

He documented the damage of the Cartago earthquake in 1910, an explosion in the country’s prison in 1917, assorted fires and other tragedies, including the 1926 Río Virilla rail disaster that killed 360.

The Centro is the agency that provides money for restoring historic buildings, hence the interest in architecture and history.
Rosa Malavassi is the coordinator of the exhibition. The Centro said that the idea is to let those living here and tourists compare the past with what exists now. That way the public can see how buildings have been cared for and not cared for, it said.

Gómez is the go-to source for the history of the area because of his good record keeping. He did the bulk of his work between 1910 and 1950. He is considered the founder of photo journalism in Costa Rica.

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