For Immediate Release

Media Contacts: Melanie Mathos / Hannah Nuccio
Lou Hammond & Associates /
(843) 371-1363 / (843) 410-5306


The Gibbes Museum of Art Presents the Groundbreaking Exhibition:

Photography and the American Civil War

(Charleston, South Carolina) – From September 27 – January 5, 2014, the Gibbes Museum of Art presents Photography and the American Civil War. Organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this landmark exhibition brings together more than 200 of the finest and most poignant photographs of the American Civil War. Through examples drawn from the Metropolitan\'s celebrated holdings, complemented by important loans from public and private collections, the exhibition will examine the evolving role of the camera during the nation's bloodiest war. The "War between the States" was the great test of the young Republic's commitment to its founding precepts; it was also a watershed in photographic history. The camera recorded from beginning to end the heartbreaking narrative of the epic four -year war (1861–1865) in which 750,000 lives were lost.

Photography and the American Civil War features both familiar and rarely seen images that include haunting battlefield landscapes strewn with bodies, studio portraits of armed Confederate and Union soldiers preparing to meet their destiny, rare multi-panel panoramas of Gettysburg and Richmond, and languorous camp scenes showing exhausted troops in repose. Also included are diagnostic medical studies of wounded soldiers who survived the war’s last bloody battles and portraits of both Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
“We are thrilled to bring this exhibition to Charleston, the very city where the Civil War began,” says Curator of Exhibitions Pam Wall. “These photographs tell a powerful story of our nation’s greatest struggle, and the fascinating intersection between history and photography during this time period.”

Exhibition Overview

At the start of the Civil War, the nation’s photography galleries were overflowing with a variety of photographs of all kinds and sizes, many examples of which will be featured in the exhibition: portraits made on thin sheets of copper (daguerreotypes), glass (ambrotypes), or iron (tintypes), and larger, “painting-sized” likenesses on paper, often embellished with India ink, watercolor, and oils. The exhibition features groundbreaking works by Mathew B. Brady, George N. Barnard, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy O’Sullivan, among many others. One such example is Ruins in Charleston, South Carolina by George N. Barnard from 1865. This image depicting a scene of the devastated buildings along King Street is a particularly important photograph highlighting the artistic sensibilities of Barnard’s documentary work. The images of the loss, death, and destruction of the South contain moral lessons about war, heroism, and slavery.

Approximately 1,000 photographers worked separately and in teams to produce hundreds of thousands of photographs—portraits and views—that were actively collected during the period (and over the past century and a half) by Americans of all ages and social classes. In a direct expression of the nation’s changing vision of itself, the camera documented the war and also mediated it by memorializing the events of the battlefield as well as the consequent toll on the home front.

Related Programing and Special Events:

Thursday, September 26, 6pm: Member Preview Party

Friday, September 27, 12 noon: Lunchtime lecture with Jeff Rosenheim, Curator in Charge, Department of Photographs, Metropolitan Museum of Art
$20 Members, $30 Non-Members (box lunch included)
For details and to purchase tickets please visit
or call 843.722.2706 ext. 21.

Saturday, September 28: Smithsonian Free Admission Day

Sunday, October 13: Free Admission Day

Thursdays, October 17, November 14, and December 12, 2:30pm: Curator-led tours with Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions
Free with museum admission

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue written by Jeff L.
Rosenheim, Curator in Charge, Department of Photographs, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and distributed by Yale University Press, the book will be available in the Museum Store ($50, hardcover). The catalogue is made possible by the Roswell L. Gilpatric Publications Fund.

Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905 in historic Charleston, S.C. The Gibbes houses one of the foremost collections of American Art from the 18th century to the present. The Gibbes is currently undergoing major renovations and will reopen in the spring of 2016. The renovated museum will properly showcase its extensive collections and will feature an admission-free ground floor, providing a place to watch artists at work in studios and stroll through a world-class garden.

135 Meeting Street | Charleston, SC | 29401