Asahel Curtis: Downtown Tacoma exhibit features prominent Pacific Northwest photographer

The Washington State Historical Society and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission plan to unveil a new exhibit in August that will feature rare images of state parks taken by the photographer Asahel Curtis.

The exhibit, entitled Washington State Parks Through the Lens of Asahel Curtis, will include photographs taken by Curtis during the Great Depression and capture the early recreational use and development of Washington’s state park system. Many images show parks under construction by crews from federal work relief programs, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. The photographs featured in the exhibit are from a unique type of media called lantern slides. Originally black and white photos, they were color-tinted by hand in Curtis’s Seattle studio. The slides were recently digitized and are in the care of the State Park’s Collections Program.

Curtis, who was born in 1874 and died in 1941, was a prominent Pacific Northwest photographer who spent more than 40 years documenting the rapid transformation of Washington state that occurred during his lifetime.

The free exhibit opens on Sat., Aug. 1, at the Washington State History Museum’s Community Gallery, located at 1911 Pacific Ave., in downtown Tacoma, and runs until Sat., Oct. 31.

More information is available online at