One museum in France is changing the way we view the past thanks to its vast archive of color photographs from the early 20th century. The Albert Kahn Museum has made nearly 70,000 photographs available to the public at high resolution as part of its quest to digitize The Archives of the Planet project.
French banker Albert Kahn started the project in 1908 with the goal to photograph humanity around the world. The project continued until 1931, with Kahn hiring 12 professional photographers to travel to 50 countries. Not only did they take portraits of people and monuments, but they also documented important historical events like the Turkish War of Independence and the golden jubilee of Jagatjit Singh, the last ruling Maharaja of Kapurthala State.
After compiling 72,000 photos and videos, the project only came to a halt after the stock market crash of 1929 bankrupted Kahn. Since 1990, the Albert Kahn Museum has administered the collection. And while the photos were previously available online, a difficult web interface and low resolution made it difficult to fully enjoy the work.
Now, everything has been made easily available and the public can fully appreciate Kahn's documentation of a world that was coming into globalization. Through the Image Portal, visitors can enjoy a look at 80% of the Archives of the Planet. The only sticking point is the portal is in French, but it's well worth firing up Google Translate to peruse the images.