Calumet Visitor Center Hosts Archives’ Exhibit

J.W. Nara documented many aspects of life in Michigan's Copper Country, including the underground work of miners. Nara's photography is the topic of an exhibit visiting Calumet through June 24. Nara image 42-142 courtesy Michigan Tech Archives. Click on the image for additional information.


A traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, is open to the public at the Calumet Visitor Center of Keweenaw National Historical Park at 98 Fifth Street in Calumet, Michigan. The exhibit, “People, Place, and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara. The exhibit continues through June 24 and is open during the Visitor Center’s normal public hours, severn days per week, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

John William Nara was born in Finland in 1874. He later immigrated to the United States and established a photographic studio in Calumet, Michigan, in the heart of America’s most productive copper mining region. In addition to posed studio portraits, J. W. Nara’s lens also captured the people, place, and time he experienced in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Copper mining and industry are an important part of the story, but Nara also captured the Keweenaw’s rural landscape, including local farms, shorelines, lighthouses, and pastoral back roads. 

Keweenaw National Historical Park will host a public program at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23 in conjunction with the exhibit. Erik Nordberg, University Archivist at Michigan Technological University, will give an illustrated presentation, “Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara.” The presentation features dozens of historical photographs of the Keweenaw and explores themes of commercial photography, family, and recreation that are depicted in Nara’s photography. 

The traveling exhibit, funded in part by descendants Robert and Ruth Nara of Bootjack Michigan, works from historical photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives. Interpretive panels highlight the people, places, and times that J.W. Nara experienced during his lifetime and include material on urban life, farming, and the 1913 Michigan copper miners’ strike. A small exhibit catalog is available at no charge and includes three Nara photograph postcards from the collection. 

The exhibit will remain on display at the Calumet Visitor Center through June 24. For more information on the exhibit, contact Keweenaw National Historical Park at 906-337-3168 or the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 /