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The Boone County History & Culture Center is pleased to announce the opening of a new history exhibit in its galleries.  Faces Found: Boone County Portraits 1886 – 1940 opened on March 20.  

            The historic photography exhibit represents the work of four photographers during that 54-year span in one Columbia studio.  They were not the only photographers in Columbia at that time, and they are not the only photographers whose work are in the Boone County Historical Society’s photography collection of 500,000 glass plate and plasticine negatives.  However, these four men: Joseph L. Douglass, Henry Holborn, Wesley Blackmore, and John Francis Westhoff, all worked out of one studio at 910 ½ E. Broadway during those 54 years, each one of them retiring (or passing away) and selling their portrait photography business to the next.  And with each sale to the next up and coming and enterprising photographer, they passed down the ownership of their work, creating most of the massive collection that is in the vaults of the Boone County History & Culture Center today.  David Haberstitch, the photography curator of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History, said last month the collection is, “undoubtedly one of the largest collections of a cumulative aggregation of community photography in the nation.”

            The exhibit consists of the work done in the 2-year-old Henry J. “Hank” Waters III Digital Imaging Lab.  Volunteers use state-of-the-art scanning and imaging software to preserve the 80 to 135-year-old glass plate negatives.  The story of how the massive photography collection was nearly destroyed – and at one time lost for ten years – and the story of those who rescued and preserved the collection between 1970 and 1991, is also explored in the exhibit’s narrative pieces. The exhibit includes a multi-media component in its two video screens.  The video produced by Axiom, a Columbia company, utilizes 3-D animation to enhance close-ups of many of the exhibit’s images.

            Faces Found includes images of the famous and unknown, adults and children, white and black, Boone County’s elite and Boone County’s working class.  The exhibit features only 92 photographs but Faces Found celebrates a phenomenal photographic history of Boone County that brings alive for us the sublimely beautiful, proud and honest personalities as revealed in our forbearer’s stoic, thoughtful, and sometimes handsome faces.

            The exhibit’s curators include Dr. Laurel Wilson, Howard Wilson, Carolyn Spier, Karen M. Miller, Tim Trogdon, Mary Waters, Nancy Thomas, graphic designer Suhey Campos and Boone County History & Culture Executive Director, Chris Campbell.  The exhibit will be on display through mid-January 2020.

About the Boone County History & Culture Center

The Boone County History & Culture Center (formerly the Boone County Historical Museum & Galleries) is a 29-year-old venue.  The Center’s main building, owned and operated by the 95-year-old Boone County Historical Society, is always admission-free and includes a museum store, a genealogical library and the Montminy Art Gallery.  The society is a nonprofit organization that depends on grants, donations, and membership dollars.   

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For more information contact Chris Campbell, Executive Director, Boone County Historical Society at the Boone County History & Culture Center, 573-443-8936, chriscampbell@boonehistory.org.