Civil War exhibit with Mathew Brady, stereo photographs & Winslow Homer sketches. Canton Museum of Art - 47 minutes from our house via Rt. 77S

I don’t know whether we will want to try and work this into our gathering. Certainly if there is bad weather we should consider it. Those local may want to go at another time.

Excerpt from Akron Beacon Journal, Dorothy Shinn review 9/4/11
“….Through Oct. 30 in observance of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the Canton Museum of Art is exhibiting A Nation Divided: The Heartland Responds, an exhibit of Civil War photography, art and artifacts relevant to Ohio and neighboring states.

The works in this show have been borrowed from numerous collections throughout Ohio, several of them from private collectors, but the vast majority from the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown and the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum in Canton.

From the Western Reserve Historical Society comes a historic collection of photographs that the Canton Museum has reproduced, to protect the fragile originals from extended exposure, and enlarged to enable visitors to see the details of the images. Some of the images are so crisp that the museum has been able to enlarge them to over life size.

From the Butler comes a collection of sketches by Winslow Homer done for newspapers and other periodicals such as Harper’s Monthly. These show bivouacs, battle scenes, camp life, soldiers returning from the war, family reunions, and so on.

Homer’s illustrations were reproduced in the periodicals using a block printing technique since the technology for printing photographs in newspapers was not invented until 1880.

While photography was not yet in widespread use in periodicals, it did have a pivotal role to play during this war, the first major military conflict that was, at least in the beginning, closely followed by the public as it unfolded.

Mathew Brady, the famed Civil War photographer, found his work much in demand during the war, but ignored immediately afterward. He had to close his studio and sell his photographs to the U.S. government to pay his debts because the nation wanted to put that conflict behind it.

The McKinley loan includes uniforms, weapons and memorabilia. A private collector and re-enactor from Ohio has loaned impressive artillery pieces.

Many of the re-enactors have become collectors, such as the Union re-enactor who loaned the museum his collection of camp chairs and Mexican War-era saddle and bridle. (He was also able to secure a Confederate general’s uniform for M.J. Albacete, Canton Museum of Art executive director, who appeared at Thursday’s opening gala as Gen. Lee.)

Separate gallery space has been devoted to viewing stereographic images, a form of 3-D technology perfected by Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1859 that became popular during the Civil War period. Traditionally viewed through a hand-held stereopticon, the museum has converted many of these images to digital format, viewed using red and green glasses. Viewers may find, as I did, that the red half of these glasses overwhelms the viewing experience unless the glasses are pressed firmly and evenly against the face.

All in all, this is a well-staged exhibit, dramatically presented with extensive didactic materials that put the items in context….”

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