Bellevue Arts Museum presents an exhibition of Polaroids from collector Robert E. Jackson

September 20, 2018
Photo (far left): Erik Simkins

September 20, 2018
Contact: Emilie Smith
Phone: 425.519.0755


Press Image Gallery
(password protected)

For access credentials, please contact Emilie Smith, Marketing Manager, at:

Polaroids: Personal, Private, Painterly—Photographs from the Collection of Robert E. Jackson is on view at Bellevue Arts Museum October 12, 2018 – March 24, 2019

Bellevue, WA—Polaroids: Personal, Private, Painterly—Photographs from the Collection of Robert E. Jackson, which opens at Bellevue Arts Museum on October 12, features Polaroids from Seattle-based collector Robert E. Jackson. The exhibition is the first museum exhibition of Jackson’s collection in the Northwest and one of the first to feature the vernacular Polaroid.

For over two decades, Seattle-based Robert E. Jackson has been a serious collector of mass popular photography and photographic ephemera. Aspects of his collection have been exhibited in both the National Gallery of Art in D.C. and the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as via gallery shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. His collection is the subject of two catalogs, The Art of the American Snapshot: 1888–1978 (2007) and Pure Photography (2011), and his photos were included in the 2011 bestselling book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  

Images in the upcoming BAM exhibition are organized around three themes from Jackson’s collection. The first, the personal photograph, reveals a world of pre-digital personal contemplation. These images demonstrate the Polaroid’s use as an early form of social media where images could be composed, created, and developed in an instant to be shared physically among friends.

The selection of private photographs in the exhibition highlights privacy as a unique selling point of the Polaroid camera. The introduction of instant photography allowed for image-making to occur away from prying eyes, creating a special bond between photographer and subject. These photographs offer a window into the private lives of anonymous individuals without context or explanation of the image’s intended use.

The final section in the exhibition features a selection of painterly photographs, including works by Seattle based photo artist Erik Simkins. These altered images illustrate how the development of instant photography went hand-in-hand with new and varied methods of image manipulation, leading to a unique crossover art form in which photography became a tactile and painterly experience for the photographer.

Polaroids: Personal, Private, Painterly is curated by Benedict Heywood and Robert E. Jackson. It is the first in an ongoing exhibition series at BAM highlighting collectors and their collections.


Bellevue Arts Museum is a leading destination in the Pacific Northwest to experience art, craft, and design. BAM engages the community through exhibitions, programs, and publications, featuring regional, national, and international artists.