Shaping the History of Photography: The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin Presents the Ninth Biennial Fleur Cowles Flair Symposium

September 30-October 2, 2010
Harry Ransom Center, 21st and Guadalupe Streets, Austin, Texas

Dr. Burns Will be presenting the history of The Burns Collection Exhibitions consisting of over 50 museum and gallery shows between 1978-2011. 
"The symposium springs from Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection, the Ransom Center’s exhibition of this foundational collection of the medium’s history. Curators, collectors, historians, and photographers will participate in a series of panel discussions that focus on the areas in photography on which the Gernsheims had such impact—collecting, exhibiting, publishing, and historiography. Leaders in their fields will consider the forces that have historically shaped these areas, as well as the contemporary influences and developing trends that continue to affect our understanding of the history of photography."

On Photographic Exhibitions, Saturday, October 2, 10 a.m.

Anne Tucker, Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX

Stanley B. Burns, MD, FACS, Executive Director, The Burns Archive and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, New York University, Langone Medical Center, New York, NY

Marianne Fulton, Photography curator, writer, appraiser and adjunct faculty, School of Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin

Clint Willour, Curator, Galveston Arts Center, Galveston, TX

Learn more about this symposium by clicking HERE


Memento Mori- The Exhibition & Opening at The Merchant's House Museum

Below are a few photographs illustrating the exhibition at The Merchant's House Museum. According to historic preservation rules the installation had to be creatively planned. No photos could be hung on the walls or placed directly on the furniture of this beautifully preserved 19th century home, nor could there be bright lights or flash photography. Memento Mori curator Eva Ulz did a great job of displaying a rich amount of information to compliment the historical and contemporary images. Early daguerreotypes and ambrotypes are exhibited in closets, waiting to be discovered. Three traditional wood displays encase memorial ephemera including postmortem photographs, coffin plates and cards. There is a sound and scent component to the exhibition as well- the rooms are perfumed and subtle recordings can be heard.
The Opening Sign
A View of the Rear Parlor
A View of the Front Parlor
Reproduction Casket by Artist Marian St. Laurent
On Display in Eliza Tredwell's Bedroom on the Second Story of the House
One of the Informational Timelines Created by the Museum
The Postmortem Photo on the Left is a Print from
Sleeping Beauty II
Postmortem Daguerreotypes & Ambrotypes
Displayed on the 'Whatnot' Shelf
One of the Three Cases Displaying Postmortem Paper Prints
Another One of the Postmortem Display Cases
Dr. Burns With His Video Camera Before the Opening Reception
Eva Ulz: Giving the Coffin a Test Run
Visitors to the exhibition can try out the coffin and
have their own postmortem photograph recorded.
Lissa Rivera of The Burns Archive
Reading the Display by Marian St. Laurent
Alice Lease Dana of The Burns Archive
Modeling her Mantilla in the 'Secret' Garden

A Slideshow of Photos From the Opening Reception

Dr. Burns 'At Rest' After a Hard Day's Work
A Souvenir From the Opening Reception
Visitors to the opening had their own postmortem taken as a souvenir to the event. Anyone who visits is encouraged to try out the coffin and have their own photo captured. The museum has started a Flickr gallery to collect and share the images. Click HERE to see who has been brave enough to step inside! 

Even if you did not make it to the opening you can still see the exhibit through November 29. There will be events such as a book signing & lecture with Dr.Burns as well as a 1865 Funeral Reenactment held by the museum staff. Please keep an eye on this blog and the Merchant's House Museum Calendar HERE.


Preparations for the Upcoming War Exhibition with Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) 2012

Dr. Burns was visited by Anne Wilkes Tucker, Curator Photography (MFAH) and Will Michels, War Photography Exhibition Guest Curator (MFAH) and expert on military photography. Research was conducted on The Burns Collection's war photography, particularly medical aspects, special battles, arms albums and revolutions. Tucker and Michels viewed thousands of photographs- from the Crimean War (1854-56) through Vietnam and The Cold War (1989) over an eight hour period.

Will Michels, Dr. Burns, Anne Wilkes Tucker and Lissa Rivera
Viewing the Civil War Medical Photography of Dr. Reed B. Bontecou 
Examining Dr. Reed Bontecou’s Civil War photographs of wounded soldiers. The images are shown in the design layout for Dr. Burns new book Shooting Soldiers: 101 Regiments, Photographs by Reed B. Bontecou, MD. Over 1000 photographs taken by Bontecou will be presented in four volumes now in production.

Will Michels, Dr. Burns and Anne Wilkes Tucker
‘The Ehrhardt Guns Album'
 ‘The Ehrhardt Guns Album' showcased the complete artillery catalogue of the company as well as early armored cars. The album also details the materials necessary to transport the weapons from mules to cars. It was a special memento- signed: “Presented as a Remembrance of the Visit of His Imperial Highness Prince Tsai Tao of China to the Proving Grounds at Unterluss, June 16th 1910” Dedicated by Rheinische Metallwaren - und Maschinenfabrik (Dusseldorf). The photographs document the war and Artillery Commissions from Chile, Italy, Turkey, Romania and especially China displaying latest in weapons, as well as the visits of the German Emperor, Imperial Highness Archduke Leopold Salvator of Austria,  His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Serge Michailowitsch of Russia. The guns represented majority of  the heavy weapons that would soon be use by German-Austrian axis members during World War I.

Mexican Revolutionary Firing Squad 1910
Discovering new photographs related to the Mexican Revolution 1910-1917 –including an album taken by Poncho Villa’s physician.
Over 2,000 Bains Co. WWI Photographs
Viewing the collection of over 2,000 Bains Co., Signal Corps and German images of World War I. Over two dozen albums by nurses and physicians were also evaluated. Images of plastic surgery repair of head and neck wounds were the highlight along with images of pioneer efforts of government rehabilitation programs.

Looking at a Display of Revolutions
Germany 1918, Russia 1917-18, Morocco 1920’s, Syria 1925, Cuba 193
Examining photographs of The Day of Potsdam, March 21, 1933
Examining photographs of The Day of Potsdam, March 21, 1933
Known now in Germany as the unholy ‘Day of Potsdam.’ The ‘Day of Potsdam’ is a symbol for the disastrous relationship between National Socialism and Prussianism which lead to the Enabling Act of 1933, giving the Nazis full legislative powers, even allowing deviations from the constitution. In these original photographs by Helmut Kurth-Goering’s personal photographer we see not only Hitler but rare images of Heinrich Hoffmann- Hitler’s personal photographer. Hoffmann’s photographs of Hitler and WWII are icons of German efforts at propaganda and the functioning of the German WWII war machine.

The Largest Collection of Images Related to the Battle of Nomonhan
Nomonhan- the 1939 episode in which Japan attacked Russia (May-October) with an outcome that changed world history.  Stalin sent General Georgi Zhukov with new T32 tanks to defeat the Japanese. Zhukov’s victory became possible due to his detailed planning and skillful use of motorized artillery against the Japanese Army. He was awarded the title ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ and promoted to full general. It was Zhukov who later defeated the Nazi’s in the Eastern Front and conquered Berlin. Japan, an island nation, gave up the idea of attacking and evacuated Russia with its army. The Japanese Imperial war machine decided to strike 'south' with its navy and attack the United States. Dr. Burns believes it is the most important battle related to or part of WWII as the defeat altered Japanese interests and cooperation with the Nazis. As a result of the loss of the Japanese threat Russia could move its factories over the Urals away from Hitler’s armies. When the showdown came at the Battle of Moscow (The largest battle ever fought) and the Battle of Stalingrad, Stalin was able to call on dozens of Manchurian, Siberian and other Asian divisions to surprise Hitler’s armies and defeat them. Had these divisions (millions of men) not been available Hitler would have single-handedly won his Russian campaign and conquered all of Europe.

Looking at a D-Day Photograph Taken on Omaha Beach
Dozens of Nazi and American soldier’s albums were explored and including ones relating to the crimes of the Wehrmacht. While the crimes of the SS, especially the SS- Totenkopfverbände and particularly the SS- Einsatzgruppen and SD are well known, the regular armed forces represented by the Wehrmacht committed war crimes of their own, particularly on the Eastern Front in the war against the Soviet Union. The albums soldiers created were often well documented with dates, location and units involved.

Presenting an Unusual 'Cold War'' Album
This album was made by a Russian soldier sent to guard duty in East Germany in the mid 1970s. It wass beautifully illustrated and painted. A rare military memento made by a common soldier.

To learn more about...
Anne Wilkes Tucker, Curator Photography, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston- visit this LINK
Will Michels, Guest Curator, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston- visit this LINK
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston- visit this LINK


Rare African American Photographs from the Ken Ogden Holdings Added to Dr. Burns’ Collection

     We are happy to announce the acquisition of unique images from the Ken Ogden Collection which was sold at auction in August. The Burns Collection emphasizes the black middle and working classes who despite living in a hostile atmosphere created a parallel universe of honor, dignity and community that has continually distinguished itself. The images added to the collection portray the achievement of blacks living the American dream. Proud people showing the world how they wished to be seen. The images in clear distinction to the racist portraits so popular in many circles at the same times these photographs were created.

The Stanley B. Burns, MD collection of African-American images is one of the largest most comprehensive in the United States containing over 25,000+ vintage photographs from daguerreotypes to prints of the 1970s. A major exhibition of the works- Shadow & Substance: African American Images form the Burns Archive  is traveling the United States, In 2009 it was seen at the Indiana State Museum (Inianapolis and in 2010 at the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery, UMBC, (Baltimore).



Discoveries at Brimfield Flea Market

©2010 The Burns Archive
The Long Line for the J&J Show at Brimfield
Fields are run by particular companies and are availible to peruse on scheduled opening days. The opening above had a $5 charge and opened at 8am. People wait in line and literally run inside to get first pick at the market.

The Brimfield Flea Market (which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year) had many great offerings. Dr.Burns saw familiar faces who have been working at the market in Brimfield, Massachusetts throughout his years of collecting. 

©2010 The Burns Archive
Dr. Burns (left) with a Mayer & Pierson Painted Salt Print


New Sleeping Beauty III Website, New York Times Style Article & More!

© 2010 The Burns Archive, Sleeping Beauty III Memorial Photography: The Children


The Burns Archive was happy. They announced the launch of a website for the release of the Burns Press publication Sleeping Beauty III Memorial Photography: The Children. It is a sneak peak into the contents of the book and features an image gallery with preview photographs from the book. 
The New York Times Style Blog posted about our exhibition at The Merchant’s House Museum. Please click here to read more.
Joanna Ebenstein of Morbid Anatomy posted information about the exhibition. Check out her blog to learn more about her lecture series at The Observatory and Library which features books on Art, Science, Medicine & Death.


Memento Mori- Creating the Exhibition

“Memento Mori:” The Birth & Resurrection of Postmortem Photography

The Merchant's House Museum
 29 East 4th Street, NY, NY

Thursday, September 9, 2010 through Monday, November 29, 2010

Outside the Merchant's House Museum
Plaque- About MHM
Drinking secret recipe MHM tea, note the 19th cent. folding chairs.
Eva Ulz, Dr. Burns, Pi Gardiner, Lissa Rivera, Sarah Simms
Dr.Burns laying out his collection of antique coffin plates, death announcements, mourning pins, postmortem photographs and other funerary ephemera. 
An appropriate Victorian Setting for memorial images.
Alice Lease Dana (Left) Dr.Burns (Right)
"At Rest"
Trying out the coffin that will be on display for visitors
to have their own postmortem photo taken.
© The Merchant's House Museum, photo by Jook Leung
A view of the rear parlor at the Merchant's House
© The Merchant's House Museum, photo by Jook Leung
A view of Eliza Tredwell's Bedroom at the Merchant's House

"In collaboration with the Burns Archive; featuring artists Joel-Peter Witkin, Sally Mann, Hal Hirshorn, Marian St. Laurent & Sarah Lohman. Trace the evolution of postmortem photography in America through 19th-century daguerreotypes and prints from Sleeping Beauty III (soon to be released by the Burns Archive) as well as modern art inspired by the iconography of these historic images. Then stage your own “postmortem” photograph in our reproduction coffin. Included with regular admission. Reservations not required."