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New Digital Exhibit Highlights Lynn Johnson

Morgan Spehar
March 28, 2022
New Digital Exhibit Highlights Lynn Johnson Informational Banner
Graphic design by Brooke Stanley/Ohio University Libraries

Explore the new digital exhibit from Ohio University Libraries that highlights the Lynn Johnson Collection and the ongoing work of Digital Initiatives and the Mahn Center for Archives & Special Collections with Johnson’s materials. The exhibit, which will be available online March 28, features the work of world-renowned photojournalist Lynn Johnson and explores some of her stories captured across the world. 

Johnson is an alumna of Ohio University, and in 2011 she donated her personal collection of photos, working drafts, handwritten notes, copies of her published work, and other materials in the original filing cabinets where she organized her work. The Lynn Johnson Collection is made up of over two million images and is the cornerstone of the Libraries’ Documentary Photography Archive

The new virtual exhibit features examples of Johnson’s work from the 1970s through the early 2000s with additional information and resources for anyone interested in learning more. 

“I think maybe something...unique in this exhibit is that while there is a narrative component introducing Lynn Johnson and her work – using materials found in the collection such as newspaper clippings and her datebooks in addition to her photography,” said Laura Smith, photo archivist and curator of the exhibit. 

The online exhibit features a “Stories From Around the World” section, where users can see some of the places Johnson has traveled for her work, and what she photographed while she was there. These photographs can then be viewed in the Libraries’ Digital Archives

Last fall, the Libraries’ Digital Initiatives made available online a Lynn Johnson digital collection, which continues to grow,  and, according to Smith, the images in the new Lynn Johnson online exhibit were largely pulled from those digital offerings. 

“This exhibit links back to the digital collection, which I hope encourages further exploration,” she said.  

The Lynn Johnson Collection can also be further explored through other Libraries publications, such as “Gatherings Spotlight: The Lynn Johnson Collection.” 

The Lynn Johnson digital exhibit also displays some of the work that goes on behind the scenes in the Documentary Photography Archive and in Digital Initiatives. Smith shares some of the work that goes into processing the collection according to archival standards and practices. In a separate section, Erin Wilson, digital imaging specialist and lab manager, describes formats and qualities unique to analog photography, and the process of digitizing film negatives.

The digital format of the exhibit serves to make the information and resources more easily accessible by a wide audience.

“[I]t isn’t bound to a place or time or even the risks of exhibiting original materials like a physical exhibit,” Smith said, “and it is easier to connect people with additional resources within the exhibit’s narrative or content.”  

The Lynn Johnson Collection at the Libraries is incredibly diverse and there’s something for everyone, whether they are interested in the stories Johnson photographed or photojournalism, and anyone interested in archives or digitization will likely be interested in the new online exhibit as well. 

For more information about the Lynn Johnson Collection or the new digital exhibit, contact Laura Smith