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double exposure

A new exhibition, Double Exposure: Russia’s Secret Police under the Last Tsars, is based on one of the most extraordinary collections held in the Hoover Library & Archives: the records of the Paris branch of the Russian Imperial secret police, known as the Okhrana. The Okhrana collection, consisting of once-secret files and photographs of many of the most wanted revolutionaries of the early twentieth century, documents the tsarist government's surveillance of its political enemies throughout Europe, including many men and women who would become leading figures of the Soviet regime after 1917—most notably Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Joseph Stalin. Presenting a wide array of documents and artifacts drawn directly from the Okhrana police files and other related collections, Double Exposure traces the antecedents of surveillance and terrorism tactics—executed both by large nation states and clandestine insurgents—that continue to influence the world we live in today.

Double Exposure is the first ever exhibition to showcase this unique collection—the story of which is as dramatic as those of the police agents and revolutionaries whose lives are chronicled in its files. Once believed to have been burned by the last Russian ambassador to France after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, the Okhrana files were in fact smuggled to the Stanford campus in the mid-1920s.  Fearing for his life lest the Bolsheviks uncover his duplicity, the ambassador that organized the shipment of the files insisted that the existence of the material remain a secret. Not until the ambassador’s death in 1957, a full forty years after the Bolsheviks seized power, was the existence of the enormously valuable collection made known. The revelation made headline news around the world, attracting the global attention of both intelligence agents and scholars of espionage, surveillance, and terrorism.

Revealing the movements and motivations of both the police and the pursued, Double Exposure documents the wide range of material used by the Okhrana for intelligence gathering: surveillance reports from agents in the field, reports from the Paris office to St. Petersburg headquarters, dispatches, ciphers, correspondence of revolutionaries, and countless photographs, which became the principal tool for identifying surveillance targets. Perhaps the most mesmerizing are the mug shots of individual radicals—males and females, many of them photographed in both their younger and their older years—as well as studio photographs of individuals unaware that the cameraman would turn the negatives over to the Russian police. The records provide a remarkably detailed account of the activities and evolution of the various political parties and groupings that made up the Russian revolutionary movement, while also demonstrating the origins of the modern surveillance state. By viewing fascinating materials related to both the watchers and the watched, visitors to Double Exposure will come away with a new understanding of how, long before the Information Age, intelligence-gathering became essential to the forward movement of history, politics, and revolution.

The exhibition is curated by Bertrand M. Patenaude, Hoover Research Fellow, and designed by Samira Bozorgi, Assistant Archivist for Exhibitions at Hoover Library & Archives.

Double Exposure: Russia’s Secret Police under the Last Tsars opens Thursday, October 29, 2015, and runs through March 12, 2016. The exhibition is open to the public, free of charge, Tuesday–Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion (next to Hoover Tower) on the Stanford University campus. Parking on campus is free on Saturdays. For directions and parking click here.

Past Exhibitions

Information about past exhibits created by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

See past exhibitions >

In observance of the university's winter closure, the exhibition will be closed December 21, 2015 through January 4, 2016.

The Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion is located on the Stanford University campus next to the Hoover Tower. Designed by architect Ernest J. Kump and built in 1978, the exhibit pavilion features rotating exhibitions on a variety of topics highlighting the world-renowned collections of the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. Materials featured in exhibitions may include political posters, photographs, letters, diaries, memorabilia and rare publications.

Previous exhibitions have included:

The Exhibit Pavilion is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free of charge. Please check here for the current exhibition schedule, or call the Hoover Archives' front desk at 650-723-3563, or the Exhibit Pavilion at 650-723-3666.


From Highway 101 North and South:
Take the Embarcadero Road exit west toward Stanford. At El Camino Real, Embarcadero becomes Galvez Street as it enters the university. Stay in the left lane and continue toward the center of campus. There is metered parking on the right side of Galvez Street, on Memorial Way. Galvez Street ends at Serra Street and Hoover Tower can be seen on your right. Take the stairs to the left of the main entrance of Hoover Tower. The glass and wood one-story building on your left is the Herbert Hoover Memorial Pavilion.

From Highway 280 North and South:
Exit Alpine Road east toward Stanford. Continue east, turning right at the traffic light on Junipero Serra Boulevard. Turn left at the first stoplight, Campus Drive East. Continue on Campus Drive East, turning right at Galvez Street. The metered lot is on Memorial Way. Hoover Tower can be seen on your right.

See map and directions >

Dedicated by our founder Herbert Hoover in 1941, the Tower is open daily from 10am to 4pm, except holidays. Visitors can view two permanent exhibit rooms on Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover and a small exhibit case in the rotunda with rotating exhibits highlighting Hoover Institution Library & Archives materials.

For stunning views of the Stanford campus and the South Bay (with San Francisco and San Jose in the distance), a guide service will bring you up to the observation platform and point out specific landmarks ($2 general, $1 seniors and children under 12, and free for Stanford affiliates). Daily from 10 to 4, except holidays, with last ticket sales at 3:50. For more information about tower tours, visit the Stanford website or call (650) 723-2053.

The tower's fourteenth floor houses a carillon of 48 bells cast in Tournai, Belgium. An inscription on one of the largest bells translates as "For peace alone do I ring." To learn more about the carillon's history, read "I Ring Only For Peace" by Elena Danielson in Hoover Digest.

Although we cannot outdo Stanford's visitor information website or the horticulture and landscape site maintained by Stanford Buildings and Grounds, we want to share the Library & Archives staff's favorite campus spots.

Memorial Church - In addition to beautiful mosaics, stained glass windows, and a striking façade when lit against the night sky, the interdenominational church offers choral and organ concerts.

Cantor Arts Center - Admission is free at this museum, which offers a wide range of changing exhibitions. The Rodin Sculpture Garden is always open, with lighting for nighttime viewing.

Arizona Cactus Garden - This cactus and succulent garden off Quarry Road between Campus Drive and Arboretum Road was designed in the 1880s. You'll find it near the Mausoleum and Angel of Grief.

Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden - Artists from New Guinea created these sculptures while visiting Stanford; the Rodin sculptures were among their many influences. The garden is at the corner of Santa Teresa Street and Lomita Drive.

Dale Chihuly's glass chandelier - The atrium of the Lokey Stem Cell Research Building at 265 Campus Drive boasts a two-ton chandelier created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. It contains more than two thousand individually blown pieces of glass.

Oregon Courtyard - In the spring, take in the flowering cherry trees in this courtyard designed by landscape architect Thomas Church. It is on the east side of the Main Quad just off Lasuen Mall, across from the School of Education.

Hoover Tower - Stanford's top destination is the view from the top of this campus icon. The best doughnut around is on the tower's ground-floor atrium, where changing exhibits of Library & Archives materials are shown in a set of glass cases shaped like a doughnut.

Announcement: Winter Closure

Okhrana Records, Box 237, Hoover Institution Archives.

In observance of the university's winter closure, the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibition Pavilion will be closed December 21, 2015 through January 4, 2016.