I have the sweetest husband … this past Saturday, he went with me to Fort Worth, Texas to a museum. The Amon Carter Museum, to be exact. Which required a round trip drive of 654 miles. Approximately 10 hours total driving …
My husband … he is not the biggest fan of museums. Now, don’t get me wrong. He has culture, to a degree. He loves music and will go to hear a symphony, a jazz band, zydeco … you name it. He’ll go. And he enjoys the occasional theatrical production. He’s even been game enough to join our community theater guild … performing in our premiere season production, building sets for our second production, and serving as assistant director to our upcoming production.
But museums … unless it’s the Texas Surf Museum in Corpus Christi (to which I now owe him a trip), himself is not so much a fan. So when he agreed to go with me on my little road trip, I was exceedingly grateful.
A few months ago, Smithsonian Magazine featured an article on the history of Autochrome, which was the very first color photography. I’m not sure, but I may have blogged about it when I first read the article. The article mentioned that The Amon Carter Museum would be featuring an exhibit on this important discovery in the history of photography. Well, of course, I had to see it … I mean, Texas is big … but not so big that we couldn’t make a highpowered road trip to Fort Worth, right?
We made arrangements for our girl to spend the night with a buddy, since we planned to head out EARLY Saturday morning. Our original time of departure was scheduled for 4:30 a.m. I felt pretty good about the fact that we left at 4:50 a.m. (I’m notorious for running late, so 20 minutes was not too terribly bad …) The weather was a bit dicey, in that we had a gorgeously scary lightning show until we got to Houston. But once we hit the north side of H-town, things cleared up a good bit and the weather was beautiful for the remainder of our day.
In addition to the autochrome exhibit, there was an exhibit of snapshots dating from 1888 to 1978 … it was very interesting, too. People are so funny when someone has a camera!
Regarding the pictures I took below … when I checked in at the museum, I was told that I could take pictures of anything in the museum’s permanent collection, but exhibits on loan were off limits. The gal in the bookstore (where I filled out my photo permit) said the snapshot exhibit was on loan from the National Gallery of Art and off limits, but she told me the autochrome exhibit belonged to the Amon Carter, so it was okay to take pics of that exhibit.
You can imagine how awkward it was when a guard told me (after I’d taken several pics of the autochrome exhibit) that I was not supposed to take pictures of it. What the???? I even pointed out where one of the annotations makes reference to the exhibit belonging to the museum. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hmm??? Strange.” A few minutes later he walked back over, said he’d checked with his boss, and sure enough, the autochrome exhibit was off limits. He grinned and said, “But you got away with taking a few. I’m not going to confiscate your film.” (I didn’t dare tell him that my camera was a digital that the pics could easily be deleted from … my thinking is this: I wouldn’t have taken the pictures if I hadn’t been told it was okay. I’m not planning on using them in any kind of way to make money. They are for my own personal use. And the annotation makes reference to the “autochrome holdings in the Amon Carter Museum …” indicating the museum owns the autochrome exhibit, and therefore photography of same should be permissible.)
So here are my legal and “illegal” shots from my visit to Fort Worth.
This display case shows the components of the glass plates used to take autochrome photographs. The powdery substance is potato starch that has been dyed orange, green, blue, and white. The black substance is carbon black. The colored powders are mixed together and spread on the plate with an emulsion (I hope I’m remembering this correctly … it is quite technical). Then the carbon black is used to “fill in” any spaces that are not covered by the colored powders. I am still not certain exactly how it works, but the colored powders somehow cause the exposure on the glass plate to result in a colored image, rather than a black and white one. Simply amazing. I think I am most amazed that two French brothers were sitting around the photo lab one day (at least that’s how I imagine it) … having lunch, and one says, “What eef we take zee potato and wee make zee powdair …” “Oui, oui! And zen we add zee colours to zee powdair … non?”
Is this not a simply breathtaking image? It looks like a watercolor, and yet it is a photograph! Just beautiful … and all this before Photoshop ever existed. Ha!
Since himself was such a good sport about being dragged to Fort Worth, we had lunch at Angelo’s. Here’s some interesting trivia from their website:
tradition, they know just the right time to break it down. When Neiman
Marcus Chairman emeritus turned 95 everyone knew that he loved Angelo’s
barbecue. So in honor of the occasion, the Fort Worth eatery broke it’s
embargo on outside catering to provide the meal at a surprise birthday
party for Mr. Stanley (as he is known).
If it’s good enough for the big dude at Neiman Marcus … well I suspect my guy will like it. 🙂 (And he did.)
This has nothing to do with either the exhibit or lunch. But I thought it was a pretty cool sign and so I took a picture. Fort Worth actually has an abundance of old neon signs that would be a blast to photograph on another road trip. Sadly, we had a long drive home and so I was only able to get a few. Maybe the others will show up in another blog down the road. We’ll see!