Preservation of Film Negatives of the Elias del Aguila Collection of the Historical Archive of Centro de la Imagen

Even though he was the favourite photographer of Lima’s middle class, until 2015 Elias el Aguila was practically unknown. Over 7000 photographic negatives of his collection are stored at the Centro de la Imagen, including photographs of Fernando Belaunde Terry – twice president of Peru – as a child.

When Elias del Aguila’s collection arrived at Centro de la Imagen, it was supposed to be part of the Fotografia Central/Estudio Courret archive, Lima’s most famous photographic studio. However, it was discovered that the photographic negatives belonged to the collection of the E. del Aguila & Cia Photographic Studio Archive. Elias del Aguila was a photographer in Lima between 1903 and the 1930s. He started his training in the early 20th century and became the preferred photographer of the middle class in Lima. Among his sitters, researchers have identified important businessmen, politicians and intellectuals of the time.

The collection was stored in poor, uncontrolled conditions until its arrival to the Centro de la Imagen in 2011, which resulted in the decay of the plastic support, as well as the silver image. Both nitrate and acetate negatives are in advanced stages of deterioration.

Despite the limitations of the pandemic, the project catalogued 7,334 items, the cleaning of 2,410 items, and the digitisation of 2,399 plastic negatives. All cleaned items have been moved to safer storage conditions. Twenty-five volunteers from Peru, Mexico and Argentina were trained in metadata and cataloguing. Centro de la Imagen now owns the first collection of photographic negatives stored in a frozen environment in Peru.

Project Details

Location: Peru, South America, Americas Organiser(s): Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) Project partner(s): Centro de la Imagen Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £14,864 Commencement Date: 10/2019 Project Status: Completed
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