Antique Photos of Rapa Nui found in the Museum of Cologne, Germany

Antique Photos of Rapa Nui found in the Museum of Cologne, Germany

Antique Photos of Rapa Nui found in the Museum of Cologne, Germany

The researchers Betty Haoa-Rapahango and Tania Basterrica-Brockmann have set up an exhibit in the Tadeo y Lily Gallery taken from the photographic legacy of the Chilean-German Hans Helfritz (1902-1995), who visited Rapa Nui in 1946 as a member of the “Easter Island Commission”, together with Federico Felbermayer and Robert Gerstmann. These last two belonged to the Society of Friends of Easter Island, which had been formed in Valparaiso (Chile) as a response to Chilean journalists’ accusations about the situation on the Island, at that time leased to the “Compañía Explotadora de Isla de Pascua” owned by the English firm Williamson, Balfour & Company.

The mission of this “Easter Island Commission” was to investigate and register the needs of the Island from both scientific and technical points of view, with the objective of proposing improvements in the lives of the Islanders. Previously, the Society of Friends of Easter Island had, for many years, been maintaining the leprosarium on the Island, as well as assisting those Islanders who had made it to Valparaiso stowed away on ships so that they could study and find work, among other charity activities.

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The photos by Hans Helfritz that are on exhibit show people and places on the Island that were eventually published in his book “Isla de Pascua” and today are archived in the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne, Germany. The Museum offered these images in high resolution that were brought by the curator Lucia Halder specifically for this exhibition, solidifying an alliance for a coming project, which is to publish a bilingual Spanish-German book on the time spent by Hans Helfritz on Rapa Nui.  This research was financed by the Ministry of Culture, the Arts and Heritage.
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