Victorian selfies are on show

An exhibition set up as part of a project to increase audience engagement with historic photographic collections will close its doors this weekend having touched millions around the world.

A number of funny-faced Victorian portraits which were featured in the exhibition at Ashington’s Woodhorn Museum, captured the imaginations of people in 30 different countries as the images were viewed on websites across the globe and shared though social media.

Woodhorn director Keith Merrin said: “Research just a few weeks after the launch of the exhibition showed that close to 3.4 million internet users had received a message, viewed a news item or seen an image connected with the “Victorian selfies” as they became known.

“A stunning 47,624 people then went on to engage with the images by commenting on them, sharing them with friends and liking them etc on social media.”

One of the main purposes of the project, made possible with funding from The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund and run by the Museums Association, was to make collections available to new audiences and find new ways to do it.

The Retronaut, otherwise known as Chris Wild, was engaged as a guest curator last year and the project has seen not just the physical exhibition at Woodhorn, but the development of a Flickr stream for Museums and Archives Northumberland (Woodhorn and the Archive’s parent trust), increased activity on social media and use of Northumberland Archive Images through Retronaut’s website and various social media channels.

Some of the images from the exhibition plus others from Northumberland Archives can be seen online at

The exhibition will run at Woodhorn Museum until Sunday, Feburary 22.