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Photo courtesy: Unidentified photographer, Three Men with Fish and Lobster, tintype, ca.  1890.  [Wm.  B.  Becker Collection/PhotographyMuseum.com]

Daguerre’s American Legacy: Photographic Portraits (1840-1900) from the Wm. B. Becker Collection

MIT Museum / April 18 - January 4, 2014 / Cambridge, Massachusetts


Photography is the closest thing we have to a time machine – and a new exhibition at the MIT Museum sends visitors traveling all the way back to the 1840s and 1850s, when the very first photographic portraits were made. Produced on mirror-like pieces of silver-plated copper, a hundred of these one-of-a-kind images, called “daguerreotypes”, are presented at the MIT Museum’s Kurtz Gallery for Photography in Daguerre’s American Legacy: Photographic Portraits (1840-1900) from the Wm. B. Becker Collection. Included are photographs of abolitionists and slaves, stalwart firemen and flirts with fans, brick-makers and literary women, cross-dressers and chicken-pluckers. Highlights include superb examples from America’s first masters of photography: Southworth & Hawes of Boston, Jeremiah Gurney of New York, and Marcus A. Root of Philadelphia, as well as outstanding works by obscure and unknown artists. The Kurtz Gallery for Photography at the MIT Museum, a gallery devoted to continuing MIT’s rich legacy of photography, is the first US venue for this exhibition.

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