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January 25 – July 20, 2014

Location: Bloch Building, Gallery L10
Admission is FREE.

This exhibition highlights a commitment to the earliest form of photography: the daguerreotype. The museum's world-renown daguerreotype holdings now include more than 800 pieces. Continuing to build on this strength, this exhibition displays the newest additions to this remarkable collection and expands this vision to include European daguerreotypes and beyond.

Americans loved the daguerreotype and by 1843, it had become widely popular, remaining the dominant form of photography for the next 20 years. The process made portraiture affordable to a broader public and covered a wide stylistic spectrum.

In Europe, French daguerreotypes reveal a more consistent emphasis on creativity and artistry while many British daguerreotypes are distinguished by elaborate hand-painting. In Japan, photography–relatively unknown until 1868—was a means of adopting Western culture.

The daguerreotype is like no other photographic process. Each plate is a one-of-a-kind image. For viewers of the 1840s and 1850s, daguerreotypes seemed to be magical bits of reality. More than a century later, they still hold that kind of wonder and appeal.

This exhibition is supported by the Hall Family Foundation and the Campbell-Calvin Fund and Elizabeth C. Bonner Charitable Trust for exhibitions.


Unknown maker, British. Actor in costume, ca. 1850. Daguerreotype, three-quarter plate, image size: 7 1/8 x 5 1/2 inches. Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2010.35.20. © Nelson Gallery Foundation

Thursday, March 13
Artist's Talk
Jerry Spagnoli: The Art of the Daguerreotype
6–7 p.m. | FREE

Saturday, March 15
Public Demonstration
Making a Daguerreotype
10:30–11:30 a.m. | FREE

Friday, April 25
Behind the Seen
One of a Kind: The Unique Nature of Daguerreotypes
6–7 p.m. | FREE

Friday, May 2
The Curator is IN!
In the Looking Glass: Recent Daguerreotype Acquisitions
7–8 p.m. | FREE

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