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Strike a pose

Cyclists across the country proudly posed with their wheels. In doing so, they declared their embrace—and mastery—of the new technology while reinforcing their self-identities as people who were modern. For many, a bicycle portrait was also a kind of declaration of independence.

Tintype, 1890s
Tintype, 1890s
Tintype, 1890s

Tintype, 1890s

“My world took on a new aspect. I was. . . master of the poetry of motion. ”

–Anonymous writer recalling when s/he learned to ride, 1920

Photo studio, 1880s

Photo studio, 1880s

Courtesy of Jack Mord, The Thanatos Archive

That's a photographer with his camera on the left. Who's the guy with the paintbrush and bucket on the right?

Trade card, 1890s

Trade card, 1890s

The cycling craze in the 1890s coincided with the increasing affordability of studio photography. Studios offered sitters their choice of painted backdrops.