Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: through June 4, 2017
This small exhibit is in what I call the "low-light alcove," a small nook close to the archives room and the One Life space. I'm assuming the items displayed here are fragile, as it's quite dark. When I read that this show featured daguerrotypes, I knew I was heading over here. I'll admit, my eyesight is not the sharpest, so it can be challenging to really look at what's on offer. Better to see them dimly, however, than not at all!
There are seven people pictured here, each with two daguerrotypes. The point of the show is that although a picture may be worth a thousand words, two pictures are worth even more. When we get one image in our minds, it can become fixed as "the" way a person looked. This is especially true of historical figures who lived long before modern photography or television (let alone smartphones or the Internet). Even those who posed for daguerrotypes (which were lightning fast compared to a painted portrait) look wooden and dour, mostly because they had to hold still for so long while the picture was taken.
This show offers an opportunity to see two glimpses of its subjects. With some, the advances in technology mean that although they look pretty grim in one picture, they look more natural in a second, taken years later. I used to think, "Their lives must have been awful" when I looked at old photos; now I have a better appreciation for the fact that perhaps technology just hadn't caught up to their smiles.
Verdict: Worth a look (or two?), and easy to combine with a trip to see the Babe Ruth display or the archives' look at cats before the Internet.