Monday, March 05, 2018

A Photographic Gem in Pittsburgh

Back in mid-February I had the opportunity to visit Pittsburgh, PA for a few days, and I arranged to visit a photography museum that most of you have probably never heard of - the Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History (PAMoPH).  I found it by accident while researching the area on Google Maps a month or so prior to the visit.   I am so glad that I found this place, as it happens that I had about 25 4x5 glass plates of the Pittsburgh area that were taken about 100 years ago, and they needed a proper home.  The Photo Antiquities Museum was the perfect place for them, and the museum was definitely interested in my donation. 

Bruce Klein, our host
We arrived at the museum, located at 531 East Ohio Street, and buzzed the doorbell.   Bruce Klein, our guide, and curator, met us at the door, and escorted us upstairs to the museum.  Two more people joined our guided tour, and Bruce is an excellent photo-historian. He explained the different photo processes in terms that anyone could understand, and I was impressed with the displays and amount of photo materials that were on exhibit.  The PAMoPH has about 2500 square feet is packed with images, tools, cameras and ephemera that are sure to interest anyone with an interest in the history of photography.    I was most interested in the cameras and ephemera from Kodak and Polaroid, and there was enough there to keep me busy for a few hours, if I could have stayed.   

First of all, museums devoted to the techniques and tools of photography are few.  I know only of Eastman House in Rochester, NY and the Argus Museum in Ann Arbor, MI,  where anything significant about the history of photography and the hardware can be seen.  While in a relatively small space, the PAMoPH is full of historical gems, from Daguerreotypes to ambrotypes, albumin prints and lantern slides.  The exhibit cases are well-lit, enabling one to see the various images and cameras, etc.  There is also an exhibit downstairs that is titled Lincoln In Pittsburgh, which runs through the summer.  The museum is really strong in Civil War era photography and photos on glass, and the Pittsburgh area (which is why I donated the plates to them).

How a view camera works.
The PAMoPH is open Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and admission is $10.  You can call ahead to arrange a tour at 412-231-7881.    The museum is fund-raising to renovate another building with 25,000 sq. ft. of space which will allow them to expand their education and outreach, as well as improve the visitor experience.  I will definitely visit again the next time I am in Pittsburgh.  Thanks to Bruce Klein for his wonderful tour of the museum.

loads of vintage Kodaks in all colors!
Lots to see and digest
Not many Argus cameras!

1 comment:

Trish Korous said...

Looks like a cool place, Mark!