Leica camera, 1928

Cameras Before Digital

Closed April 1, 2011

This case, displaying 22 cameras, focused on the technological progress made from the camera’s invention in 1839 to the advent of digital photography. Featured items included digital, amateur, and professional camera models that document the broadest range of the museum’s photo-history collections, from daguerreotype and view cameras to 20th-century military, aerial, digital and promotional models.

The centerpiece of the showcase was the 1858 painting, “The Magic Box,” by Belgian artist Camille Venneman, which depicts an itinerant photographer taking of a photo a subject sitting outside of a cottage among village onlookers. The painting serves as an inviting reference point for the exhibit that includes an original Kodak camera, a Leica 35 mm camera, a daguerreotype camera and a camera used in World War I for aerial photography. View the cameras on Flickr.

About the Artifact Walls

Artifact walls, consisting of 275 linear feet of glass-fronted cases lining the first and second floor center core, highlight the depth and breadth of the collections and convey that the Museum collects, studies and exhibits objects from our nation's rich and diverse history. The display is part of the special cases within the museum’s Artifact Walls that highlight anniversaries, new acquisitions to the collections and research findings.