Paper Photography: American Scene

By 1860, inexpensive paper photographs were being produced in volume for a mass public who sought portraits of celebrities, public events and scenic views.

During the 1860s and 1870s, photography was a witness to most aspects of American culture. The camera captured the rapid advances of the age: engineering achievements, the birth of the modern railroad, the documentation of college life, astronomy and medicine.

The photographer also experimented with the photographic process itself and experimented with manipulations to produce spirit photography and trick photography.

The exhibition also features 3-D stereographic images and cartes-de-visite. While these relatively small images have received little attention as works of art, they were some of the most popular and widely circulated of the period. The parlor stereoviewer was, in essence, the television of its day—a means of bringing virtual images of the larger world into the living room.

Joseph P. Babbitt, b. 1830
Kansas City Bridge: Lowering First Section of Curb, No. 1, August 7, 1867, 1867

Jeremiah Gurney, 1812-1886
Walt Whitman, ca. 1868

Prescott & Gage, act. 1860s
Woman with Opera Glasses, ca. 1861

Interior, Niagara Suspension Bridge, ca. 1860

Pennsylvania Railroad Engine, 1868

Sign up for e-news
and stay up-to-date with everything at
the Nelson-Atkins.
Plan Your Visit
Admission is FREE
Open Wednesday-Sunday
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Program Tickets: 816.751.1278
Wed, 10 am—5 pm
Thurs/Fri, 10 am—9 pm
Sat/Sun, 10 am—5 pm
Watch our Stories
Explore Art Program Guide
Search the Collection
Provenance Research
Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. All rights reserved.