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Sight Unseen: Stereographs from the OHA Collection, 1850-1930
Onondaga Historical Association Museum
Syracuse, NY
Sept 21, 2012 thru March 30, 2013

Curated and produced by Colleen Woolpert

Sight Unseen presents a comprehensive history of the stereograph, featuring over 100 original stereographs that are viewable with custom stereoscopes designed by curator Colleen Woolpert. Stereographs were the original 3D. Also called stereo views, these small cards contained two side-by-side images that, when seen with a stereoscope, combined into one 3D image. Stereographs were developed at the dawn of photography, boast the longest history of any photographic format, and were the most popular entertainment of their day. Yet they are largely unknown.

The exhibition includes nationally-marketed views of an expanding America and foreign lands, as well as Syracuse views typical of stereographs produced in other towns. Also on display are stereographs made on glass and tissue paper, family snapshot stereographs, original pages from an 1878 3D book, and stereoscopes in a wide range of designs. The various forms and functions of the stereograph are considered, along with the combined industries of photography, publishing, manufacturing and marketing that contributed to its enormous popularity.

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Sight Unseen provided me with a tremendous opportunity to be responsible for nearly every aspect of an exhibit--conception, research, organization, registration, curation, object handling, writing, exhibition design, and installation. Thanks most importantly to the OHA executive director and staff. I am grateful to have worked with their collection and to contribute to the museum's important mission. Thanks also to OHA volunteers Kevin Troxell, Barbara Rawlings, Jean Murray, Lillian Tokarz, and Rebecca Weiss for their installation assistance. My appreciation also goes to Damian Vallelonga of Lock49 for graphic design of exhibit labels and signage; Stephanie Stewart for creating an interactive computer model of the gallery, assisting with installation, and consulting about museum practices; Briana Kohlbrenner and Jennifer Hamilton for their exhibition design feedback and installation assistance; and Syracuse University Musum Studies student Clarisabeth Lopez Rodriguez for help with installation. Additionally, since I first learned to write, I have been grateful for the editorial gifts of my mother, Pat Wheeler. TwinScopes exhibition stereoscopes are now in prototype, thanks in large part to Mike Giannattasio for fabrication of the rubber forms; Chris Prior at SU Design Works for fabrication of the lens boards; Kieran Moriarty for design input and computer modeling; Quinton Fletchall for computer modeling and lens board finishing, and to the many folks who tested the devices. For offering support in other important ways, I wish to thank: Jeremy Neumann, Steve Sewell; Rani Woolpert; Lori Klopp; Nathan Young; Bradley Hudson & Teddy Aiken from Syracuse University Museum Studies Program; Rachael Faust & Jayme Yen at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle; Steve Berezin of Berezin Stereo Photography Products; fellow members of the National Stereoscopic Association and the Puget Sound Stereo Camera Club; and my parents. Thanks also to City Hardware and The Art Store for fantastic service. This exhibit was funded in part by the Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development, Syracuse University.