Carleton Watkins: The Stanford Albums

RL 00653 Valley Overlook, Half Dome
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Event Date:

07/01/2014 - 08/17/2014

Event Time:

11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Revered as one of the greatest landscape photographers of the nineteenth century, Carleton Watkins is perhaps best known for his mammoth prints from glass plate negatives of California’s legendary Yosemite Valley. Unprecedented in their size and detail, these photographs were instrumental in convincing the 38th U.S. Congress and President Abraham Lincoln to pass the Yosemite Act of 1864, the first official step towards preserving the Sierra Nevada valley for public use and a blueprint for America’s National Park System.

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite Act in 2014, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University will mount a major exhibit that will feature Watkins’ photographic album of Yosemite Valley that is now preserved in Stanford Library’s Special Collections and Archives. Also included in the exhibition will be two other large albums: photographs of the Pacific Coast and the Columbia River and Oregon. As no other institution retains all three of these integral volumes, this exhibition of the Stanford Albums will provide an extraordinary, cohesive view of Watkins’s work as he intended it to be viewed, and a remarkable vision of America’s Pacific Coast in the era of its great expansion, captured with calm even during the menace of the nation’s Civil War.
The exhibition will be augmented with historical maps of the regions depicted in the photographs. A printed catalogue, featuring large-scale reproductions of many of Watkins’s most arresting photographs and essays by scholars in diverse fields affiliated with Stanford, will accompany the exhibition. The Cantor Arts Center is a teaching institution with ongoing educational programming that is free and open to the general public.

The Exhibit will be on display from April 23, 2014 to August 17, 2014.

Docents offer free tours of the exhibition on Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tours meet in the main lobby and last about one hour. The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is always free. The Cantor is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free after 4 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends. Information: 650-723-4177.

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