Skip to main content

Series 2: Rifat Chadirji Photographic Material


Content Description

From the Collection:

Kamil Chadirji (1897-1968), born to an influential Baghdad family, played a central role in the political life of lraq as founder and President of the National Democratic Party. His position allowed him unique opportunities to take photographs throughout Iraq and other countries in the Middle East. Kamil’s son, Rifat Chadirji (1926-2020), perhaps better known as one of the most influential Iraqi architects of the 20th century, was also an accomplished photographer, author, teacher, and critic. Together, their vast collection spans more than 5 decades and contains ca. 100,000 negatives and images documenting the Middle East, primarily Iraq.

The collection illustrates daily life, cultural engagement, and social conditions in the Middle East from the 1920s – 1970s. This important record also provides a unique look at the significant transformation of Baghdad’s built environment over time.

Once on loan to the Arab Image Foundation (Beirut, Lebanon), the entire collection has been given to the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT through a gift from the Chadirji family. In 2016, while on loan to the Arab Image Foundation and with a grant from the Graham Foundation, the photography of Rifat Chadirji, in particular, was highlighted in an exhibition entitled, Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation, which opened in Los Angeles, CA early January 2018, before returning to MIT.


  • Creation: 1920s-2000s


Conditions Governing Access

Conservation assistance required for viewing at this time.


From the Collection: 200,000 item(s) (The archive consists of 18 boxes of negatives and photographic prints taken by Kamil Chadirji, 102 binders (split-ring binders with plastic covers or box covers) containing photographic material and notes created and compiled by Rifat Chadirji.) : Circa 100,000 negatives, 100,000 photographic prints, 1,000 contact sheets, and 100 35 mm slides. Notes typed or written on paper often accompany the photographic prints held in Rifat Chadirji's binders.

Language of Materials


Repository Details

Part of the Aga Khan Documentation Center, MIT Libraries Repository

Cambridge US