James Hall Nasmyth (1808-1890), a Scottish inventor and engineer, is best known for his development of the steam hammer. After his success in engineering and industry, Nasmyth retired and spent his later life pursuing the hobby of amateur astronomy. He moved to Kent and built a 20 inch reflecting telescope, made detailed observations of the Moon, and eventually in 1874, he published a book titled The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite. This wonderful volume is illustrated with photographs (woodburytypes) and a copy is housed in the rare book collection in The Richard and Ronay Menschel Library at George Eastman House. The book was published to demonstrate the origin of certain mountain ranges on the Moon through erosion and age. Nasmyth and co-author James Carpenter believed that Lunar mountains were the result of volcanic activity, a theory that was later disproved. Continue Reading »
Archive for the 'Exploring the Archive' Category
Every year George Eastman House welcomes hundreds of researchers interested in our collections; we host photo historians, curators, students, scientists, and hobbiests from all over the world. Often they are experts in the field and we get to learn a thing or two about our collection. A few weeks ago a former professor of mine was here to look at our collection of Megalethoscope slides. Antonella Pelizzari teaches History of Photography at Hunter College in NYC and is an old friend of Eastman House. She is currently working on a book on Photography and Italy and traveled to Rochester to research and look at our collection of Megalethoscope slides. I was familiar with these delightful objects before Antonella’s visit, but I didn’t realize that we have one of the largest collections of Megalethoscopes in the world. I also learned a bit about how they work and how they are constructed, which I will share here.
Joe Struble, Archivist of the photography collection, periodically calls curatorial staff into the print room for “art moment”. This happens when something rare or extraordinary is pulled for photography, research, cataloging or conservation. The object might be going back into its box again for years so we like to take the opportunity to appreciate it. Last Friday Joe called “art moment” and we all gathered around this odd deer leg lamp with photo-offset lithograph shade.
George Eastman House is known for its rich and diverse photography collection, but often it is only the “greatest hits” that get seen by the general public. One of the perks of working at Eastman House is getting to see photographs that might never make it into the Best of exhibitions. I want to share some of these treasures here.
The Photography Collection holds approximately 200 works by Alfred Stieglitz; a collection that is much requested for loan, exhibition and research. Within this mix of iconic photographs of George O’Keeffe’s hands and images of Lake George is a small collection of lantern slides that Stieglitz made to illustrate lectures.