Nara Exhibit on Display

Portage Lake District Library hosts J.W. Nara Photograph Exhibit

Michigan Tech Archives Nara Exhibit
Onni Nara with camera; Keweenaw Digital Archives Image #:Acc-05-097A-015

“People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, has moved to the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, Michigan. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and is open to the public through Dec. 16 during the library’s normal hours. The library is located on the Houghton waterfront, at 58 Huron Street, Houghton, MI 49931-2194.

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.

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 Portage Lake District Library through Monday, December 16. For more information on the installation, contact the library at 906-482-4570 or via e-mail at Additional information about the exhibit is available from the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at