cities -- urbanity -- design
Exhibit, Missouri History Museum
Capturing the City: Photographs from the Streets of St. Louis, 1900-1930
SEPT 2016 - JAN 2017
To accompany the launch of our book, the Missouri History Museum mounted an exhibit of selected photographs from the Street Department collection. My co-author Angela Dietz and I developed the concept, selected the images, and wrote the text, while MHM staff oversaw design, printing, and installation.
The exhibit consisted of 40 images of varied size, including one reproduced at 5ft x 7ft. It also included three wall-mounted explanatory panels and five table-top panels. While the book presents the photographs in thematic groups, the exhibit adopted a 'salon' style, showcasing many of the most interesting and aesthetically appealing images.
Under the direction of Charles Clement Holt, the St. Louis Street Department made tens of thousands of images in the first decades of the twentieth century. Ostensibly created to document routine civic improvements, the wandering frame of their cameras captured so much more: a messy, socially dynamic city undergoing rapid transformation into a modern metropolis. Thus, the Street Department photographs reveal the city in the very process of being made.
As the photographs below attest, the exhibit draws people in with lively, engaging scenes that connect them with the city as it appeared a century ago. The scenes are at once familiar--well-known street names and places--and at the same time distant, showing many buildings, businesses, and practices long since gone.
A number of events accompanied the installation of Capturing the City. Angela Dietz and I gave two presentations at the Missouri History Museum, one on Wednesday evening, Sept 14th and one on Thursday morning, Sept 15th, each followed by a book signing. We also gave a presentation at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters to a large crowd, and signed books afterward. Finally we sat for an interview on KWMU 90.7FM Public Radio, and appeared on a segment of "Show Me St. Louis" on NBC TV KSDK Channel 5. Some of these events can be seen in the photographs below.