Historic, moving photographic exhibition opens at the Reading Public Museum

Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904), Horse Reuben trotting, harnessed to sulky with driver, Plate 605, 1887, collotype on paper, Reading Public Museum

Reading, Pa. – September 8, 2010 — A new exhibition, Eadweard Muybridge & Harold Edgerton: Photographing Motion, opens at the Reading Public Museum on Saturday, October 16, 2010 and continues through Sunday, January 16, 2011.

The Reading Public Museum has long held in its collection the remarkable complete photographic portfolio of Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion. Comprised of 781 mounted prints, the images include studies of human figures and animals captured by Muybridge’s innovative arrangement of multiple sequential cameras. The portfolio was sold to subscribers in 1887, and it may be that the Museum’s founder, Dr. Levi Mengel, was one of those early subscribers, or that the portfolio came into the collection as a gift when the Museum opened in 1904. Muybridge’s interest in using photography to reveal the details of motion otherwise invisible to the unaided eye would surely have appealed to Mengel’s philosophy of learning through careful looking.

In 2010, the Museum received nine photographs by Dr. Harold “Doc” Edgerton, gifted by The Edgerton Family Foundation through Gus Kayafas, who studied and taught with Edgerton at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Edgerton’s invention of stroboscopic photography allowed fleeting actions, such as the passage of a bullet through an apple, to be captured on film with the aid of rapid light flashes.

The new acquisition of Edgerton’s portfolio of motion studies produced in the mid-twentieth century has inspired this exhibition, which will feature the complete Edgerton gift and a carefully chosen selection of Muybridge images. The combination of works by these two important American photographers provides an opportunity to see how motion photography was first invented by Muybridge, and expanded upon with new techniques by Doc Edgerton. This exhibition premiers previously undisplayed works from the Museum’s growing collection of photographs, and foregrounds both the historic depth and recent expansion of the Museum’s rich permanent holdings.

Guest curator Rachael Arauz holds a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania, and has taught and lectured on the history of photography. She previously organized Masters of American Photography (2008) and, with co-curator Ronald C. Roth, Keith Haring: Journey of the Radiant Baby (2006) for the Reading Public Museum.

The Reading Public Museum is supported in part by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and is located at 500 Museum Road, Reading, PA 19611. Hours are Tuesday - Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. Admission to the Museum is: $8 adults (18-59), $6 children/seniors/students (w/ID) and free to Members and children under four years old. Web: www.readingpublicmuseum.org