Selfies may seem like a recent innovation, but their history stretches back millennia. Some of the first known self-portraits can be found in ancient Egyptian and Greek painting and sculpture. During the Renaissance, painters like Jan van Eyck and Albrecht Dürer popularized the format of the self-portrait, with artists like Rembrandt, Lavinia Fontana and Mary Beale participating in the custom that then became a staple of artists across the world. Some famous self-portraits include those done by Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh. The Galt Museum & Archives has several self-portraits by people like Cecile McCleary and Stephen Harwood in the archives and collections.
Photography increased the rate and variety of people who were creating self-portraits, with notable booms in the format in the early 1900s with the availability of commercial and personal photography equipment, in the 1970s with the release of instant cameras, and then again in the 1990s with the affordability of digital cameras. In 2002 the word “selfie” was used in an online Australian forum in reference to a picture someone took of themselves at a party. The use of the word selfie online predated the release of the first phone with a front facing camera, the Sony Ericsson Z1010, which was released in 2003. The front facing camera and advent of social media have since grown the selfie to ubiquity in popular culture.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019 is #MuseumSelfieDay. The Galt Museum & Archives is a popular location for selfies in Lethbridge with our incredible vista into the coulees, our century old heritage building, our exhibits, gardens and statues. On Wednesday come take photos in and around the Galt and share them with @GaltMuseum on social media with #MuseumSelfieDay, #MuseumsDoMore and #iheartmuseums.