NHA News Release: May 5, 2016

What a View! Nantucket through the Stereoscope Exhibition Opens at Whitney Gallery on Fair Street

NANTUCKET, MA – The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition titled What a View! Nantucket through the Stereoscope on Friday, May 27, 2016, in the Whitney Gallery at the Research Library, 7 Fair Street.

Stereographs, an early form of three-dimensional photographs, were a major vehicle for popular education and entertainment in the latter part of the nineteenth century. This new exhibition displays highlights from the NHA’s collection of over 700 stereographs, exploring both traditional and modern viewing techniques of Nantucket stereographs.

Some of the featured stereographs highlight "Views of Town," "Out-of-Town Sights," "Views of Whaling," and "Faraway Places,” which include images of locations other than Nantucket. There will be traditional stereoscopes displayed, modern stereoscopes to view the original stereograph images, as well as modern 3D anaglyphs with 3D glasses provided. All stereographs on display, as well as the NHA’s complete stereograph collection, will be searchable in the NHA’s online image database.

The stereograph was one of the first photographic mediums to be mass produced, making three-dimensional images available to the general public. The form was popular for over sixty years, and was used to document current events, tell humorous stories, educate about art and culture, and transport armchair travelers to the far corners of the globe. The stereograph relied on a special viewer, a stereoscope, to make two nearly identical photographs mounted side by side on a card appear three dimensional.

Island photographer Josiah Freeman popularized Nantucket in stereo with his panoramas and street scenes in the 1870s. Widely known for their views of the White Mountains, the Kilburn Brothers of Littleton, New Hampshire, also frequently photographed Nantucket’s seaside landscapes. The studio of C. H. Shute and Sons of Edgartown, Massachusetts, published “A Whaling Voyage” in twelve scenes, a few of which will be on display in this exhibition.

What a View! Nantucket through the Stereoscope will be on view at the NHA’s Whitney Gallery at 7 Fair Street from May 27, 2016, through spring 2017. The gallery will be open during NHA Research Library hours on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 10 A.M. – 4 P.M., and Tuesdays, 11 A.M. – 4 P.M. Please note that the gallery is closed Wednesdays, weekends, and all holidays.

“The Nantucket Historical Association’s photography collection is extremely far-ranging, and I love planning an exhibition that offers a chance to highlight a specific collection,” says Sarah Helm, NHA Special Collections Librarian. “Stereographs are an important historical photographic medium that provide a glimpse into the social history of the nineteenth century. They are also the precursor to modern three-dimensional photography, and it is fun to imagine people from this time period being entertained by three-dimensional images as we are with 3D movies today.”

For additional information about this exhibition, visit www.nha.org or call (508) 228-1894.