(N.B. The "Actual image size" versions assume they are being displayed on a monitor at 72 pixels per inch.
Seneca Falls, New York (upstream), about 1855, half plate - Unidentified ArtistPortraits
Woman at a Mirror, 1856, half plate - Alexander HeslerOccupationals
The Staff of the Express, n.d., quarter plate - Unidentified Artist
This audio is a collection of excerpts from a talk Merry Foresta, co-coordinator of the "Secrets" exhibition, gave to docents of the National Museum of American Art to prepare them for visitors to the exhibit.
All of the audio provided at this site is encoded in a program called Audio. Download a copy of the Audio player at this location.
of the Dark Chamber (0:39)
What is the 'Dark Chamber' and the 'secret' it possesses?
When daguerreotypes appeared in America, the country was experiencing its own kind of revolution and growth. Learn why America was ready for this new technology.
meets Daguerre (1:19)
While in Paris in 1838 to secure a French patent for the telegraph, Samuel Morse heard about Daguerre and his wonderful pictures. Listen to how he brought the technology of the daguerreotype to America.
are posed images. And because so many of their makers are unknown, and their subjects cannot be identified, we become reliant on the autonomy of the image itself. Portraits such as Woman Writing Letters are signals of some larger meaning: a lover's secret message, a public announcement, the description of thought. They embody the subject of communication itself, which survives the lost context of the making of these images.
types of daguerreotypists (1:36)
Photographers took different approaches to this new art. Find out how environment helped to shape both the content and commerce of daguerreotypes.
its face (1:07)
Learn about the transitions of a country and this new art form.
help to forge (1:19)
Find out how daguerreotypes went alongside pioneers as they forged westward.
Listen in as Merry describes what makes an "occupational."
created opportunity (1:38)
Daguerreotypes strongly influenced business. Even a town was named after them!
present, and future (1:12)
Science and art often intersect with milestones of invention. Hear how the Internet connects with the daguerreotype.
exhibition's design (0:51)
Exposing these sensitive and fragile objects caused great concern to the curatorial team. Learn how they utilized a ground-breaking design using fiber optics to bring this show to light