One of the Seacoast’s oldest historic attractions opens for its 98th season on April 2 with many new exhibits and extended hours of operation.
DOVER — This year the Woodman Institute Museum celebrates the 175th anniversary of photography with a special exhibition, “Tintypes to Digital,” that will take viewers back to the early days of photography when a person had to sit perfectly still — without even a smile — while the camera lens cap was removed and the photographer counted the seconds for a proper exposure.
On display are wonderful examples of those early portraits using only the light from the skylight window in the photographer’s studio.
Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes and glass-plate negatives show the artistic abilities of the 19th century photographic artists. On display are studio cameras used in the making of those early images, along with many you might remember like the first 35 mm camera, the first Polaroid, Kodak Brownies, the first Instamatic, even the world’s first digital watch camera displayed next to a rare 1905 Ticka pocket watch camera made in England.
Click image to enlarge
John Huff/Staff photographer
A camera in the collection of Dover photographer and photographica historian Thom Hindle used to take portraits at River’s Camera in 1933 by founder Edward LaRiviere.
Other unique cameras include the 1892 Kombi sold at the Columbian Exposition, a rare Boston Bullseye made by the Boston Camera Company, the 1950s View-Master, an 1880s stereo camera used to make stereo views enjoyed in Victorian homes, a 160s Russian KGB spy camera, and the 4×5 Speed Graflex used by Thornton Gray when he photographed President Harry Truman during his 1952 visit to Dover.
Also included is the studio camera brought from Canada in 1933 when J. Edward LaRiviere opened River’s Studio above the 5 & 10 cent store on the corner of Central Avenue and Second Street, plus a display of Dover Film Corporation cameras and film made in the lower Sawyer Mill factory building in the 1940s and 50s.
This is a truly unique opportunity to see the evolution of photography and cameras since 1839. Photography as most of us remember it is gone. The darkroom and chemicals in enamel trays under safelight conditions is a thing of the past.
Digital has had a great impact on photography, more than any other change in the history of photography. Not only has the way we process the photograph changed, but how we capture the image has changed as more people take pictures today with a telephone than with a camera.
Click image to enlarge
The first digital watch camera made by Casio from the collection of Dover photographer and photographica historian Thom Hindle. (John Huff/Staff photographer)
The 2014 photography exhibit is open during regular museum hours, extended this year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
The Woodman Museum is a traditional early 20th century-style natural science, local history and art museum. It displays many collections throughout four historic buildings, including an original 1675 garrison house. Minerals, fossils, taxidermy, nineteenth century furniture, paintings, police-fire memorabilia, antique dolls, Civil War artifacts, a scouting exhibit, nautical instruments, local mill history, pewter, even the podium used by Abe Lincoln during his campaign visit to Dover in 1860.
The Woodman is a unique museum experience with something for all ages and many curiosities displayed in antique cabinets.
The museum is located at 182 Central Avenue, exit 8E on the Spaulding Turnpike/Route 16. Groups are welcome with reservations. Call 603-742-1038 or visit www.woodmanmuseum.org. Free parking on the street.