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Early magic lanterns, glass slides come to C.E. Smith Anthropology Museum

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Promise Wedgworth, a senior in anthropology, models 19th century tools for hand tinting glass slides. (Photo: Marjorie Rhodes-Ousley)

  • February 21, 2012

Magic lanterns, the earliest means of projecting photographic images, and the glass slides they enlarged, are the subject of this year’s annual exhibition in the California State University, East Bay C.E. Smith Museum of Anthropology.

“The Magic Lantern: Illuminating a Bygone Era” opens with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 9, and will be open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through June 15 (except March 26-30 and May 28) in Meiklejohn Hall, room 4047, on the CSUEB Hayward campus, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., 94542. Admission is free.

Designed and created by students in ANTH 3710, Anthropology and Museums, the exhibition includes antique magic lanterns and glass slides from the turn of the 20th century — before moving pictures and color photography — when the oil-fired lanterns provided rare images of far-off lands and famous tales. 

Central to the exhibition is a lanternist’s tent show that enables visitors to experience what it was like for persons seeing projected images for the first time. It includes a 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair show created by Kevin Flammer, a senior in anthropology; shows presenting the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, created by Nora Morton, a senior in history, and Deanna Bassell, a senior in liberal studies; and a “Wonders of the World” show by Shanda Cowan, a senior in anthropology.

Jacqueline Kith, a senior in anthropology, and Chris Rodriguez, a recent alumnus in public history, created an interactive exhibit on the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition, and a presentation by anthropology majors Deedra Sachse, a senior, and Noemi Hernandez, a junior, introduce visitors to early fairy tales.

Danielle Lowen, an anthropology graduate student who is coordinating the exhibition, said “Easy access to images on YouTube, Netflix and Google is something we take for granted today. Imagine over a hundred years ago, when visual entertainment came in the form of handcrafted and painted glass slides. Patrons to our exhibit can rediscover this world of magic and the amazing tale it tells.” 

Collections displayed are on loan from the CSUEB Library’s Special Collection section and from private collections, including the Island City Masonic Lodge. More information is available on the C.E. Smith Anthropology Museum Web site.

CSUEB welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodation upon request. Please notify event sponsor at (510) 885-7414 at least two weeks in advance if accommodation is needed. 

Campus parking is $2 per hour at meters or in pay lots. (View the campus map.)

Group tours may be arranged by contacting marjorie.rhodesousley@csueastbay.edu


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