Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Day at the Museum

A few weeks ago, I went to the Gibbes Museum of Art to see their newest exhibit, "Photography and the American Civil War". This collection is currently on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and will head to the New Orleans Museum of Art in January. 

Gibbes Museum of Art

Truthfully, the Gibbes Museum is a work of art itself. She's been standing since 1905, and her best kept secret is the Tiffany dome in the Rotunda. The blue and green stained glass is gorgeous and should not be missed. 

Tiffany Dome, Gibbes Museum Rotunda

The exhibit was amazing and thought-provoking. History is far more exciting to me when I can find a way to relate to it. Well, 150 years ago Charleston was a tough place. Life was much harder back then, and these photographs illustrate what we already know; war is never pretty. 

Photography was in it's early stages during the Civil War. Photographs were made with glass negatives and had to be processed on-site in a tent like the one pictured below. 

[Picture Gallery Photographs] Unknown, American

I can't imagine gathering my photo supplies and trekking across the Charleston Harbor to take wartime photos. We go fishing in the Charleston Harbor, and I can promise you it would be a very rough boat ride back then; especially with cannons being fired overhead.

Terre-plein off the Gorge, Fort Sumter Alma A. Pelot (American, active Charleston, South Carolina, 1850s–1860s)

Hopkinson's Plantation, Edisto Island, South Carolina Henry P. Moore (American, 1833–1911)

Bonaventure Cemetery, Four miles from Savannah George N. Barnard (American 1819-1902)

While the photographs are gruesome and sad, the real story for me was that they even exist. With over 200 original photographs, it's hard to believe these pieces have been preserved for so many generations. The Lowcountry is a constant landscape in the story that unfolds, and the exhibit certainly made gave me a greater appreciation for this area. If you are looking for a uniquely Charleston excursion, head to the Gibbes Museum to see this unbelievable collection. 

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