“Photography and the American Civil War” in New Orleans!

The extraordinary exhibition, “Photography and the American Civil War” opened at the New Orleans Museum of Art on January 30th. Dr. Burns and staff travelled to the opening, despite a snowstorm that cancelled flights and closed roads. 

Also able to escape a frigid New York for a freezing New Orleans was Jeff Rosenheim, Chief Curator of Photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and curator of the exhibition. Russell Lord, Curator of Photographs at NOMA graciously hosted two receptions, and, with Jeff, led a tour through the galleries. 
The exhibition showcases photographs of wounded Civil War soldiers from The Burns Collection, as well as hundreds of amazing images from the era. 
It was also a pleasure to see Sarah Simms former employee of The Burns Archive! She worked with Dr. Burns on the book, Shooting Soldiers, Civil War Medical Photography by R.B. Bontecou.
If you missed it in New York and Charleston, see it in New Orleans until May 4, 2014! 



Russel Lord, Stanley B. Burns, MD & Jeff Rosenhei


Opening Reception for "Working Life in Meji Japan 1868-1912"

Join us! 

The reception is Friday,  November 15, 2013 from 7pm-9m at the Resobox Gallery.

This exhibition features nineteenth century hand-colored photographs of Japanese entrepreneurial class culture from The Burns Archive. The images showcase the best of Japanese photographs that were created to show the perceived exotic nature of Japan to the West. 

We hope that you will join us for a glass of saki or a cup of tea!

But if you can't make it - the exhibition runs from November 8-December 5, 2013

The Resobox Gallery  is easily accessible from Manhattan. Take the 7 or N train or E or F to Queensboro Plaza. The gallery is on 27th Street, less than a half a block from the elevated line station.  

41-26 27th St. 
Long Island City, NY 11101
ph: 718.784.3680



Last chance to see "Photography and the American Civil War" at the MET!

Photographs from our Reed B. Bontecou M.D. collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through September 2, 2013

For those who have procrastinated all summer long, now is your last chance to visit the MET and walk through this extraordinary exhibit. From the MET’s website:

More than two hundred of the finest and most poignant photographs of the American Civil War have been brought together for this landmark exhibition. Through examples drawn from the Metropolitan's celebrated holdings of this material, complemented by important loans from public and private collections, the exhibition examines the evolving role of the camera during the nation's bloodiest war.”

Throughout the summer, a number of publications as well as news outlets have covered the immensity of this exhibit, and the amazing job Chief Photography Curator, Jeff Rosenheim, has done. As part of their ongoing Study Day series, Stanley B. Burns M.D. was part of a distinguished panel of lecturers for a day-long event, “Study Day: The American Civil War and the Body.” A personal tour led by Jeff provided ticket holders with fascinating details about the photographs in the exhibit.

Visit the exhibit before it’s gone and see an entire space dedicated to images from The Burns Archive. The exhibit ends September 2, 2013.

1000 Fifth Ave. (at 82nd)
New York, NY 10028

ph: 212-535-7710


Dr. Bontecou's Photographs from the Burns Archive on CBS Sunday Morning

Photography that Changed the Way We View War: An overview of the Exhibit

Jeff Rosenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's curator of "Photography and the Civil War," discusses images and details that provide a more intimate look at those who shaped our nation’s history and the photographers that travelled among them, documenting every step of the way. 

Although the segment aired Sunday, it is viewable online (notice our Bontecou photographs in the opening of the interview!). For those who can’t make it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art before September 2nd, the exhibit will be headed to Charleston and New Orleans in the coming months.  

1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
New York, NY 10028
Phone: 212-535-7710


Dr. Stanley B. Burns Speaks at Gallery Seminar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Study Day– The American Civil War and the Body

Friday, May 31, 2013 10:30 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.

Dr. Burns is part of a panel of distinguished guests speaking at an all-day seminar that engages in critical discourse about works of art in the galleries, as well as discussions and short lectures about the trauma of war through differing perspectives, ranging from historical to medical.


Photo of the Day: Pissoir in Paris, circa 1910

 Verso: Harry C. Ellis, American Flashlight Photographer, 13, Rue Brey, Store, Paris

Public urination is one of those unfortunate topics that every metropolitan city must deal with or ignore, much to the dismay of some. In Paris at the turn of the century, a male (unless controversy’s afoot) could relieve himself without a second thought using a fancifully designed pissoir (urinal). As this image clearly shows, some men have no reservations about staring back while they do their thing, even as they’re being photographed.

This was taken by photographer Harry C. Ellis. Among artists such as painter Auguste Rodin and dancer Loïe Fuller, Ellis documented life in Paris at the turn of the century.


“Pictures After Death” and “A Beautiful Way to Go” Together Mark Green-Wood Cemetery’s 175th Anniversary

Images from Tuesday evening’s lecture on PostMortem Photography by Dr. Stanley B. Burns at the Museum of the City of New York and snapshots at the opening reception of “A Beautiful Way to Go: New York’s Green-Wood Cemetery

Dr. Burns lectured in front of a full-house Tuesday evening on PostMortem Photography and Memorialization in 19th Century America at the Museum of the City of New York. The hour-long presentation was recorded by C-Span for American History TV (stay tuned for more information!). The event followed a week after the opening reception commemorating Green-Wood Cemetery’s 175th Anniversary, a New York iconic institution. 

But enough about accolades, let’s look at some snapshots.



Pictures After Death: A Lecture on Postmortem Photography and Memorialization in 19th-Century America by Dr. Stanley B. Burns

Tuesday, May 21 at 6:30PM at the Museum of the City of New York

 Infant Draped Over Mother’s Lap, Campbell, Jersey City, NJ, Daguerreotype, Circa 1854 

Photography of the dead was a common practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries, a way for mourners to visually “embalm” their loved ones. Until recently, however, this once ubiquitous genre of American photographs was largely unexplored. Dr. Stanley B. Burns, Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center, and distinguished author, archivist, and collector, has amassed the most comprehensive collection of this genre in the world and published three books on the subject: the Sleeping Beauty series. Dr. Burns will speak about how postmortem photography shaped American culture in the 19th century. Presented in conjunction with A Beautiful Way to Go: New York’s Green-Wood Cemetery and Co-sponsored by The New York Academy of Medicine.

'C-Span' the Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network will be videotaping this lecture for presentation as a program on their American History series and will be available from their video library. This would be perfect as a teaching supplement to the history of photographic processes and the changing nature of memorialization practices.

The lecture is based on our Sleeping Beauty memorial photography book series, available from the Burns Press website.

$6 Museum members; $8 seniors and students; $12 general public
For more information or to register by phone, please call 917-492-3395.
Information on how to RSVP can be found at the museum's website here.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue (at 103rd St.)
New York, NY 10029

Directions by subway:
#6 Lexington Avenue train to 103rd Street, walk three blocks west, or #2 or #3 train to Central Park North/110th Street, walk one block east to Fifth Avenue, then south to 103rd Street. Ramp access is available at the 104th Street entrance.


Photography and the American Civil War at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dr. Burns’ collection of medical photographs are showcased in a dedicated room as part of the MET’s exhibit. 
April 2 to September 2, 2013

The photographs of wounded soldiers and operative scenes taken by Civil War surgeon Reed Brockway Bontecou, MD are presented for the first time in a major art museum. 

Taken originally to show the effects of wounds, complications and the result of treatments the images are now recognized as among the highest level of portraiture. While it’s easy to photograph a beautiful subject, Bontecou photographed suffering and disability with a universal appeal as a result of his artistic posing and interpretation of war wounds. Jeff Rosenheim, Chief Curator of Photography of the MET and curator of this exhibit, has long recognized the artistic power of these portraits. 

The photographs show not the bravado of men about to enter battle, an all too familiar topic of interest for collectors and curators, but the true personal results of war for service personnel and their families. These images portray men, young and old, starring at us stoically, carrying their wounds. They are presented as people, not specimens, as a result of Bontecou’s art in posing. The images are significant additions to the visual culture of war and American medicine.The photographs are eloquent works of art that offer unflinching testimony to the suffering caused by America’s bloodiest war in which over 750,000 died and hundreds of thousands were wounded.

The exhibit is about documenting the war as well as the evolution of the medium of photography itself. Bontecou’s images presented near the end of the exhibit are representative of this evolution.

The slideshow provides a brief glimpse of the patrons party, the exhibition room with Dr. Bontecou’s photographs and the opening night reception.

Dr. Burns text- Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photographs by R. B. Bontecou is available form the Burns Press.


Dr. Burns Exhibits work at the National Arts Club 114th Annual Exhibit

March 20 thru Sunday April 7

Before he began collecting photography, Dr. Burns’ interest in WWII and the Nazi Genocide stimulated him to collect items related to the war, especially Nazi soldier album snapshots. He has since used them in creating computer-enhanced artwork based on the images. To facilitate comprehension and remembrance of the Holocaust, images are enlarged without being altered, then colorized with the yellow of the Jewish star worn by those in ghettos. He adds poignant captions, creating an amplified ‘Word-Image’ from these snapshots and a new visual dimension to the vocabulary of the visual culture of the Holocaust.

Dr. Stanley B. Burns and his entry, Hostile Territory

“Hostile Territory” is the piece shown at the NAC exhibit. The original snapshot was taken in Germany around 1937 and depicts a sign with caricatures of a Jewish man and woman, alerting travelers that the town is Jew-free. It is one of the images from the series:

Snapshot Photographs of the Crimes of the German Army


“ WWII Through Nazi Eyes:” Mont Saint-Michel, France

World War II Through Nazi Eyes is an ongoing series of photographs from the over 100 personal albums of Third Reich servicemen which are now in the Burns Collection. This series complements Dr. Burns’ own art work, which is a series of multimedia images created from the unique photographs taken by Nazi soldiers. These private images offer a conqueror’s inside perspective of his job, play and at times mental outlook. In many of the images the vicious abuse and murderous attitudes ingrained in Third Reich doctrine is clearly visible in the body language and facial expression of the soldiers. In this series of images they are simply enjoying the fruits of their victory as they set up their gun emplacements on Mont Saint-Michel.

On the way to Mont Saint-Michel


Happy [belated] Thanksgiving!

We at the Burns Archive are sometimes fashionably late and though Thanksgiving is but a shadow in our minds, we simply had to share this photograph encapsulating the French tradition of children cooking cats.
Lapin Sauté (Stewed Rabbit). France, 1903.


Photographs from the 24th Daguerreian Society Annual Meeting and Trade Fair, November 8-11, 2012. Baltimore, MD.

Dr. Burns attended and had a book signing for his latest publication, “Mirror Mirror: The Burns Collection Daguerreotypes.” The trade fair was attended by collectors and curators as well as several Washington D.C. and Baltimore museum staff. The highlight of the meeting was Matt Isenburg’s lecture discussing the sale, packing and shipping (about 2 months!) of his noted collection to Toronto’s AMC (the Archive of Modern Conflict). Dr. Burns had a great time meeting with old friends and making new ones, and cannot wait for next year’s meeting.... in Paris!

Dr. Burns at his table with written publications and photographs.


Photos: Geisha - The Golden years at Resobox Gallery

Good afternoon!

Here are some photographs from our opening reception at the Resobox Gallery in Queens, which we blogged about yesterday. 

Attendants included the Consulate General of Japan, Masakazu Kigure, as well as several Japanese artists and media reporters. Patrons enjoyed sake and Japanese delicacies, and a wonderful ceremonial tea ritual was performed throughout the evening by Japanese Tea Master Souheki Mori of Tea Whisk in New York.

The Burns Archive would like to thank founders Fumio Tashiro and Takashi Ikezawa for exhibiting our historical photographs. We hope you stop by and enjoy the space.

The Art of Mourning in Nineteenth-Century America

Selections from the Burns Archive

Reception: November 13, 2012, 2:00-4:00PM

Join the Art Gallery at Kingsborough Community College this afternoon! The exhibition will showcase mourning portraits, memorial artworks, and post-mortem photography (daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes-de-visite, and cabinet cards) from the archives of Dr. Stanley Burns, located in NYC, curated by Berfu Durantas-Masters, Professor of Art History, Kingsborough Community College and lecturer at the Cloisters-Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is a free catalogue to accompany the exhibit.

The exhibition has been extended into December, is free and open to the public. 
Gallery hours are 10am-3pm, Monday-Friday.

Arts & Sciences Building
2001 Oriental Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11235

Car: Belt Parkway to Exit 8 (Coney Island Avenue) then follow signs.
Bus: B-1 and B-49 bus to last stop.
Train: BMT Brighton line - B or Q train to Brighton Beach Station, then take B-1 bus to last stop.


Opening Reception for Geisha – The Golden Years 1870-1890

Join us tonight! November 12, 2012 7:00-9:00PM

A ritual tea ceremony will be performed by a Japanese Tea Master at the reception.

From the Burns Collection

The Resobox Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of nineteenth century hand-colored photographs of Geisha and Maiko from the Burns Archive. These photographs are the original images used by Dr. Stanley Burns and his daughter Elizabeth to create their noted book Geisha: A Photographic History: 1872-1912. The images in this exhibition showcase the best of Japanese photographs that were made to show the perceived exotic nature of Japan to the West. Several of the great early photographers’ studios are represented, including Kusakabi Kimbey, Ogawa Kazumasa and Baron von Stillfried.

The opening was originally scheduled for November 2nd but rescheduled for tonight due to weather events (like hurricanes... P.S. We are all OK!).

The gallery is readily accessible from Manhattan. Take the 7 or N train or E or F to Queensboro Plaza. The gallery is on 27th Street, less than a half a block from the elevated line station. 

41-26 27th St. 
Long Island City, NY 11101
ph: 718.784.3680


Mexico: War and Postcards, 1910-1916

Encountering an image that captivates one’s interest with its’ mystery and narrative is quite possibly the best part of working in an archive. It is an embodiment for the ideas that spark the next book, exhibit or any number of projects. Looking through a handful of postcards and photographs dating back to the Mexican Revolution, I wonder what this box will tell me. Generals, cities, families, and the results of battle, today I chose this image to share.

Mexican Troops Leaving for the Front. 

A post card titled “Mexican Troops Leaving for the Front.” We see men headed to battle, rifles in hand. Where is this location and where exactly are they headed? Does the photographer mean the front lines? Or, as we might know it today “La Frontera” (the border)? Although the card is postmarked 1916, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the year the image was taken. This group is heading into unknown situations, how many would make it back? And who sent this post card to a woman in New Jersey? The details that make up this image’s story are not exactly clear. 

As mentioned earlier this image is in fact a post card, one of many within the collection. I have come to learn this was the source for most photographs from the time; photographers traveling alongside soldiers, capturing scenes and as another postcard writes, “cost pesos” to obtain. As I dig deeper, perhaps I’ll find the answers. But for now, we are transfixed by the uncertainty of the men this image: those who pose, those looking down and away, and that hand in the bottom right that seems to be pointing at the title.

-Caridad, The Burns Archive 


Dr. Burns at the world premiere of Ric Burns’ “Death in the Civil War.”

The archive staff attended the premiere at the New York Historical Society, September 13, 2012.

Dr. Burns has contributed medical and memorial photographs to Ric Burns’ latest documentary: Death and the Civil War, which began its run on PBS September 18th. Images from Dr. Burns’ books, Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America and Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography by Dr. Reed Bontecou, were among those used in preparing the film. Staff from various organizations affiliated with Ric Burns’ production company, Steeplechase Films, as well as WGBH and the American Experience were also in attendance. Mayor Bloomberg provided comments about Ric’s accomplishment. After viewing parts of the film an audience discussion was led by Ric Burns with Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University and author of The Republic of Suffering… and Mark Samuels, Executive Producer of the American Experience. The reception was held in the artifact festooned halls of the historical society’s newly designed Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American history. 

Discussions and promotional videos of the film can be can be seen at the American Experience and Ric Burns’ Steeplechase Films.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg commenting on Ric Burns' Death and the Civil War.

Mark Samuels, Ric Burns and Drew Gilpin Faust leading an audience discussion after the premiere.

Dr. Burns at the premiere for Ric Burns' Death in the Civil War.

Dr. Stanley Burns with Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University
and author of The Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.

Filmmaker Ric Ross and Dr. Stanley Burns at the premiere.

Filmmaker Ric Ross and Mark Samuels, Executive Producer of The American Experience.

The reception was held inside the
Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History.

Burns Archive staff member Alice Dana enjoying the gallery before the reception.

Attendants at the reception.

The staff of PBS's American Experience with Dr. Burns.

Filmmaker Ric Ross, Burns Archive staff member Lissa Rivera, and Dr. Stanley Burns.

Another view of the reception, held inside the
Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History.

The Staff of PBS' The American Experience.

Dr. Burns with the staff of PBS' The American Experience.

Where is Dr. Burns?


Postmortem Photography at the Boston Book & Paper Exposition

Saturday, May 5th, The Burns Archive participated in the Boston Book and Paper Expo in Wilmington, MA. Leigh Infield Associates helped to host the booth, which featured a sale of all Burns Press titles, as well as antique photographs and vintage medical books. The main focus of the booth was the expose of enlargements from the Burns Postmortem Photography Collection. There where over 85 exhibitors at the impressive Shiner's Auditorium. Please enjoy the video with highlights from the show as well as a few pics from the Burns Archive Booth.