exhibiting daguerreotypes

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  RonWeaver 1 year, 7 months ago.

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    I will be exhibiting a few plates in the next month and I would like know if anyone has any tips regarding the best way to light them.






    VERY bright focused-spotlights that only light up the images themselves is the best. The brighter the better. Or in other words, the more powerful a spotlight you can shine on a daguerreotype – the better it will look in a gallery setting, especially if the gallery has white walls, which is almost always the case these days.

    A white-walled gallery is exactly what you DON’T want when displaying daguerreotypes though. My gallery has all its walls and ceiling painted black so that my images will look the best from any viewing angle and have maximum contrast.

    When you light your daguerreotypes, don’t let the spotlights spill onto the wall surrounding the images because that spill-light will raise the ambient light level of the room – resulting in a lowering of the apparent contrast of your images. Essentially, the black areas of your image will look greyer and greyer as the ambient light level gets higher.

    The darker the gallery’s light level, and darker the walls are, the better your daguerreotypes will look, and the better the images’ contrast will be. Combine that with powerful focused spotlights and your images will look great.

    If you are stuck exhibiting in a bright white-walled space with high ambient light, then you have a challenge on your hands to get enough light on each image that it can overpower the ambient light. You may have to position bright spot lights within a foot of each daguerreotype in order to get the daguerreotypes to look reasonably okay in a brightly lit room.

    Good luck,

    Rob McElroy

    Buffalo, NY



    I am stuck with the white wall scenario but luckily the rest of the exhibit can be dimmed down. It seems the worst way to view a daguerreotype is in sterile, static, gallery setting. I think I may include a small statement describing intimate nature of the medium and the optimal way to view and enjoy a daguerreotype. thanks very much Rob for the response. I am a big fan!




    Dafna Gazit

    Hello Rob,

    Currently I am exhibiting my own Daguerreotypes exhibition in a "White Walled" art gallery.

    As you recommended the light in the gallery is very powerful.

    I was wandering weather too powerful light can damage the daguerreotypes or not?

    thank you,




    Hi Dafna, there is another option to avoid the white walled gallery space, which is internally lit display cabinets. I had 5 made that have led side lighting. THis is much better than the Daguerreian society version which had a UV tube light in the top of the cabinet (also the exhibit in Bry Sur Marne in 2009 had this too) as you don't see the light source in the reflection. This is because the underside of the top of the cabinet is covered in black velvet and the daguerreotypes sit on a 45 degree angle underneath this. I had these cabinets made for the usually adverse lighting conditions of art gallery spaces. The led lights provide a cold light source so the cabinet doesn't heat up, another advantage is that you can get the dark reflection looking at the plate from far away to up close to the cabinet.









    I came across this post because I am looking at constructing a small case for displaying some of our various types of cased images. I cannot see the photos that accompany your response and I am wondering if you can possibly provide them as well as any other advice? Thanks in advance.

    Ron Weaver

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