National Nordic Museum Ballard
Feb 1–March 15, Tuesdays–Sundays
Recommended by Jasmyne Keimig
Riis was a Danish immigrant who worked as an early "muckraking" newspaper reporter in turn-of-the-century New York City. He got his start as a police reporter in 1873, accompanying law-enforcement officials into slums in the Lower East Side filled with immigrants and poor and working-class people. The traveling exhibition shares its name with Riis's popular 1890 book How the Other Half Lives, an extension of his photojournalistic work. While the charge of the Nordic Museum isn't limited to the display and preservation of art—they also educate on Nordic heritage—the quantity of explanatory wall text overwhelms the photography. And then there are the issues of Riis's work itself. As the show is quick to acknowledge, Riis's methods and attitudes toward immigrants and poor people weren't always ethical or nuanced. But Riis's influence is not to be disputed, and How the Other Half Lives gives us a glimpse into his legacy.