Some of the oldest daguerreotypes and photographs of US landscapes are about to go on display in New Orleans, as part of the first exhibit and study of such landscapes made east of the Mississippi River, the AP reports. Photographs of vast, unspoiled Western vistas are well known, many of them from federal land surveys after the Civil War. Photography had had a while to develop by then—"people could take cameras with them into the West," said Russell Lord, curator of photography at the New Orleans Museum of Art. But, he said, "In many ways, when photography comes to the East, people have reshaped the land, and people photograph that process." And, by the end of the century, photographers were taking note of industry's devastation and pushing for preservation of what wilderness remained.
East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Photography will run through Jan. 7 at the New Orleans Museum of Art. "Some of the oldest known photographs in this country are in this exhibit, and many are being shown for the first time ever—and probably the only time in our lives, because the material is fragile and light-sensitive," said Lord. The oldest include a 1939 daguerreotype of Newburyport, Massachusetts, by Boston-area physician Henry Coit Perkins, and—lent by the library of Newcastle University in England—two shots of Niagara Falls taken in 1840 by English scientist Hugh Lee Pattinson. Read more about the exhibit here. (Read more photograph stories.)