Man’s first steps on the Moon were eternalized using a Hasselblad camera and the images are among the most iconic in the history of photography. This exhibition focuses on the development of the camera, the decisive collaboration with NASA, and the people behind both the camera company and the Hasselblad Foundation: Erna and Victor Hasselblad.
The interest in photography within the family-owned business started with Victor Hasselblad’s grandfather, Arvid Viktor Hasselblad, who in 1885 obtained the sole Swedish distribution rights for George Eastman’s photographic products – later called Kodak. Victor Hasselblad further developed the work around photography, and built the camera company Victor Hasselblad AB with his wife Erna. They developed close relationships with prominent photographers, researchers, and, not least, astronauts. The couple also shared an interest in nature and Victor was a skilled bird photographer. It was the need for a handy quality camera that led to the development of the Hasselblad camera in the 1940s – the world’s first medium format camera with exchangeable components such as film magazines and lenses. These features were important when NASA chose to use the Hasselblad camera during their manned space missions in the 1960s and ’70s. The image quality was high, the magazines could be loaded with film in advance to save time, and the modular system made it possible to adapt the camera to conditions in space. The Hasselblad camera was used for all of the Moon landings in the years 1969 to 1972. It showed us the Moon – as well as the Earth – as we had never seen it before.
Erna and Victor sold the camera company in the 1970s. The Hasselblad Foundation was formed in 1979, uniting the couple’s passion for nature, science, and photography. The foundation’s purpose is to support continued research and education within the natural sciences and photography. This is realized through stipends and scholarships, as well as the photographic research and exhibitions at the Hasselblad Center. An important part is the annual granting of the international Hasselblad Award.
The objects presented in this exhibition are part of the historical archive of the Hasselblad Foundation.