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Gallery Talk: Anna Atkins’s Botanical Cyanotypes—Camera-less Photography and Scientific Discovery in the 19th Century

A cyanotype of four botanical specimens in white against a blue background.
Anna Atkins, British, Botryschium Lunaria, c. 1852. Cyanotype. Horblit TypPr 805.A170.002. Houghton Library, Harvard University. Gift of Jean Horblit, TL42351.2.

Gallery Talk

Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

This talk will highlight the work and artistic process of Anna Atkins (1799–1871), creator of the first photographically illustrated book. It will also explore the importance of Atkins’s photograms to scientific research and documentation in the 19th century.

Our galleries are full of stories—this series of talks gives visitors a chance to hear the best ones! The talks highlight new works on view, take a fresh look at old favorites, investigate artists’ materials and techniques, and reveal the latest discoveries by curators, conservators, fellows, visiting artists, technologists, and other contributors.

This talk is offered in conjunction with the exhibition White Shadows: Anneliese Hager and the Camera-less Photograph, on view at the Harvard Art Museums through July 31, 2022.

Support for the exhibition was provided by the Daimler Curatorship of the Busch-Reisinger Museum Fund. Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.

Led by:
Lillianne Keaney, Harrison D. Horblit Photograph Librarian, Houghton Library

Penley Knipe, Philip and Lynn Straus Senior Conservator of Works on Paper, Head of Paper Lab, Harvard Art Museums

Gallery talks are limited to 18 people, and it is required that you reserve your place. At 10am the day of the event, reservations will open and may be arranged online through this form. The gallery talk reservation will also serve as your general museum reservation. If required, visitors will pay the museum admission fee upon arrival.

Please meet in the Calderwood Courtyard, in front of the digital screens between the shop and the admissions desk.

Please see the museum visit page to learn about our general policies for visiting the museum.

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at at least 48 hours in advance.