Captured on a Wet Plate: Photography during the Civil War
Exhibit opens January 18, 2018 and will be on display through December 31, 2018. This exhibit will examine the motivation behind the great Civil War photographers; Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner and Timothy H. O’Sullivan to name a few. For the first time in history, war was documented for all to see and the faces of soldiers frozen in time at home and in the field. At first, soldiers would have their portraits taken for the folks back home, clutching their weapons to show that they were true men of war, young and destined for glory. Soon the glory would fade and images created on the battle field would show the dreadful cost of that glory. The public wanted to see their heroes and in many family photograph albums, alongside of their sons in uniform, would be found the likeness of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis and the great military leaders of their nation’s cause. History was being made and now there was a way to capture it for generations to come. The iconic images of people and places that we know and revere from that terrible time, were captured on a wet plate.
The exhibit will feature many of the famous photographic prints that we are familiar with and many that we are not. We will see the stress of battle on an unknown soldier’s face and the innocence of a young man untested by battle. We will see a last portrait with loved ones before making the ultimate sacrifice on the battle field and images of young men in uniform, far younger than we could imagine sending off to war today. Sailors and soldiers of the North and South and loved ones left behind to wait and worry for word of their boys. The great politicians, war hawks and peacemakers will be represented, Heroes and scoundrels will all be there, just as they were more than one hundred and fifty years ago. Additionally, photographic equipment used to create these wonderful images will add to the wonder of this special exhibit.