Gold Rush: Daguerreotypes of Early California

On view April 4 – July 12, 2020

The California gold rush was the first broadly significant event in American history to be documented in any substantial depth by photography. After gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, thousands made the journey to California. Daguerreotypists too made their way west, not in search of gold, but to capitalize on the ready market of potential customers. Establishing studios in the larger cities, some ventured into the gold fields in photographically outfitted wagons. This exhibition, featuring nearly 100 works, provides a critical look at this historic event through the lens of the daguerreotype camera and provides an extraordinary glimpse into the transformation of the American West: the evolution of mining technology, the diversity of nationalities and races, the growth of cities and towns, and the people who participated in these activities—while revealing a high level of technical and artistic accomplishment.

Gold Rush: Daguerreotypes of Early California is organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation, Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Kate and Ford O'Neil and Henry and Callie Brauer provided generous support. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Media Partner: Outfront Media


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