Liberia in 1932 (based on Paul Julien’s documentation)

National Museum of Liberia, Monrovia | July, 2014

Paul Julien (1901-2001) was a chemist, but his passion was anthropology. Between 1926 and 1962 he made numerous trips to and on the African continent, doing serological research, making photographs and films. His main quest was to find out more about the connections between isolated groups of people, mainly so-called pygmy communities in different parts of Africa. Julien was known in the Netherland through his radio talks and the 4 books he wrote about his adventures.

Julien traveled to and through Liberia in 1932. This was his first research trip in Africa. The photos and film resulting from it turned out to be very valuable in the Liberian context. The film seems to contain (based on exchanges with an American research and film team working on and with footage made in 1926 by a Harvard Expedition)the second oldest moving pictures made in Libera that is still available.

Julien’s photographs were exhibited in The National Museum of Liberia in Monrovia for several months. It was the time when Ebola was raging through the country. Nevertheless the exhibition was received with enthusiasm and let for me to new ideas to continue previous research trips with.

In the slide show that follows you see some of the preparations and the opening of the exhibition pictured by me. After that you will find documentation made by Isaac Ghunney whose brother’s studio is just across the street from the museum. I asked him to make photographs during the opening as well, while I was ‘the curator’, and also to ask some of the people present if they were willing to pose with their favourite photo in the collection.