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The same photograph can mean very different things. The Smithsonian American Art Museum's Helios presents multiple points of view about many of the photographs on the site. Whenever you see one of these icons with an image, click on it to view the associated feature. You can also add your own personal point of view (PPOV) about an image. Use the index to navigate to any image on the site.


Merry A. Foresta discusses some of her favorite images in the collection, which pressage broad themes in photography.


Helios asked a number of scholars to share their thoughts about a particular image, whether it depicts one of the earliest suspension bridges in America, as pictured in Charles Bierstadt's Niagara photograph, or biographical information about Doris Ulman as related by Pete Daniel and Deborah Willis.

Sound Bytes Index
Sound Bytes pages


Merry Foresta invited cultural historian Karal Ann Marling and photographer Mark Klett to discuss twelve of the images in the Isaacs and Consolidated Natural Gas Company Foundation (now called the Dominion Foundation) collections.


Three themes are highlighted on Helios:
  • Commerce and Industry
  • Identities
  • The Picturesque

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