Civil War exhibit shows photographs in 3-D

Kaely Holloway

A crowd of curious minds of all ages gathered in the lobby and photo gallery in Mass Media and Technology Hall for the opening of the Civil War photography exhibit, “Witness: Photographs of a Nation Divided,” Wednesday night.

The exhibit featured nine Civil War photographers, displaying their photos on new gallery walls set up in the lobby, photographs hung in the gallery room and a 3-D exhibit set up in the back of the gallery.


Refreshments were served and tranquil music was played as the crowd listened to the keynote speaker, David Lee, dean of Potter College, and the introductory speakers, exhibit curator Tim Broekema and Loup Langton, director of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting.

“How appropriate it is that this opens tonight, two days after the second inauguration of our second black president, Barack Obama, two days after Martin Luther King Day, around president Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and a few weeks after the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation,” Langton said.

All photographs displayed came from the Library of Congress. They were digital files and most were taken from original negative scans and stored for public use in the library.

“As an educator, Lewis Hyne is the godfather of photojournalism, but after working on this exhibit, I’ll be changing my lecture,” Broekema said. “These photographers are the start of photojournalism.”

Broekema recognized and thanked Gary Ransdell, the Dean’s Council and several others for assisting in either funding or set up of this exhibit. In his introduction of Lee, he credited his interest in history back to his western civilization class, taught by Lee. In the true nature of a previous history professor, Lee’s speech was filled with historical fact about the photographers and the time period, with special highlights on Matthew Brady.

Brady hired 18 photographers, equipped them with cameras, horses and little else and sent them in the field to shoot the Civil War. The resulting photographs were displayed in his studio, turning into a highly trafficked gallery. Brady’s gallery most famously showed the horrors of the battle of Antietam, the bloodiest battle of the war. People crowded the gallery to see the gruesome images of war.

“The Civil War changed photography,” Lee said. “It demonstrated the potential of photography to tell stories.”

After the opening speeches, the crowd was free to walk around and enjoy the exhibit. The 3-D exhibit was the most popular, as small crowds sat with 3-D glasses and watched a TV screen display photographs.

The exhibit will be displayed until March 29, starting a new tradition of having an exhibit every semester.

“There’s a great mix of generations here tonight, I’m excited about the turnout and the story being told,” Broekema said.