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July 1, 2014

State Museum to showcase rare photos

The Indiana State Museum will feature an exhibition July 18 through 20 at Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.

The exhibit “Shadow and Substance: African American Images from The Burns Archive” will feature rarely-seen photographs from one of the largest private photography collections in the world.

“This exhibition will allow Summer Celebration participants a chance to view how African-Americans were seen by others and how they wished to be seen,” said Indiana State Museum Assistant Curator Kisha Tandy. “These images do not tell a complete story of the past, but their eloquent shadows provide unique glimpses into the lives of African-Americans over the past 160 years.”

The 113 images in Shadow and Substance include portraits, snapshots and photographs of celebration, tragedy and joy, work and family as well as strength and perseverance. From early images of slaves and Civil War soldiers to new voters and political activists, the exhibition is filled with illustrations of achievement and shocking evidence of intolerance. Some images may not be suitable for young children.

The images were culled from the comprehensive Burns Archive of Historic Vintage Photographs that include specializations in medical and health care, death and dying, sports and recreation, in addition to images of African-Americans. The collection was amassed by Dr. Stanley B. Burns, an ophthalmologist, collector and curator in New York City who was the founding donor for several photography collections, including those of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Burns has authored several books including A Morning’s Work: Medical Photographs from the Burns Archive & Collection, 1843-1939; Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America and Forgotten Marriage: The Painted Tintype and Decorative Frame, 1860-1910.

The traveling exhibition is organized by the Indiana State Museum and curated by Dr. Modupe Labode, assistant professor of history and public scholar of African-American History and Museum Studies at Indiana University.

For more information on Shadow and Substance, contact Tandy by calling 234-1729 or by e-mailing to ktandy@indianamuseum.org.

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