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Assembled by Photojournalist and Photography Teacher, David Lee, this photographic display will be at Ventfort Hall through November.

We all have seen those piles of ancient little black-and-white photographs for sale in antique stores. “Instant relatives” they are sometimes labeled, they are usually intended to lend an air of genuine antiquity to the desk or cabinet on which they are displayed. Still, they are photographs and as such have a direct connection to the moments of their exposure. This exhibit at Ventfort Hall is intended to make them look modern again, to restore some of their unique photogeneity.

Bob Richardson, a collector and friend of David Lee, knew of Lee’s interest in photography and gave him access to this large collection of 19th and early 20th century glass plate negatives. This forms the core of the photographs prepared for this exhibit.

The negatives were made by both professional and amateur photographers in a time when there was no capability to photographically enlarge them. Today we have much faster darkroom photo paper and making photographic enlargements is relatively easy. But printing photos in the darkroom takes time and patience. The precise requirements of time, light and chemistry necessary for those negatives to be made in 1887 are followed through with the creation of these prints.  The enlargements reveal details about the texture of life in the late 19th century, how photographers worked and how they thought about their equipment and subject matter.

The exhibit is included in the regular admission to the museum. Visiting hours are daily, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Masks, while in attendance, are required. The historical mansion is located at 104 Walker Street in Lenox.