Images of the past, Reflections on the Present


On 22nd and 23rd of January the Narodni Technické Muzeum in Prague organised the Daguerreobase awareness-raising meeting. A meeting specially organised for future content providers of Daguerreobase. The meeting attracted people from all over Central and Eastern Europe.

The audience of the Daguerreobase Awareness meeting

It was a thrill to have so many enthusiastic experts together in one room. People who all live for this first form of photography and know that knowledge on Daguerreotypes and the time in which they are produced, will improve every time we share information.

Tamara Berghmans - Daguerreobase – Sharing Europe's Earliest Photographs.  Berghmans (FoMu, Antwerp) opened the floor by giving an inspiring and vivid presentation about the Daguerrebase project, making the visitors understand what the project can bring to us all and how they can make a contribution: The Daguerreobase project is a public platform and Best Practice Network of archives, libraries, museums The guided tour of Petr Kliment in the Narodni Technické Muzeum.and private contributors from across Europe, collecting and preserving information on daguerreotypes. Generally speaking, daguerreotypes are safely stored away in museum collections. Cross-connections and relationships between these collections therefore seldom come to light, though they are often precisely the missing piece of the puzzle for researchers. Daguerreobase is intended to stimulate and simplify research in the field of the daguerreotype, and similarly to offer a broad, free access to this unique facet of our global cultural heritage.

Petra Trnková - Examples of Czech Daguerreotypes in the Central European Context.  Drawing on examples from collections in the Czech Republic, Petra Trnková, researcher and curator of the photo collection at the institute of Art History (ÚDU AV ČR / IAH, ASCR, Prague), made an outline of the early history of daguerreotype production in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. Trnková also referred to interesting examples of daguerreotypes from other European countries that are part of Czech collections, examples are the Natterer brothers' portrait of Melánie Zichy-Ferraris, the third wife of Prince Metternich, and aquatints from Lerebours' Excursions Daguerriennes series.

Bohunka Koklesová. Daguerreotypes in Slovakia: A Research Project Underway.  The presentation held by Koklesová (VŠVU / AFAD, Bratislava) focused on the 'Daguerreotypes in Slovakia' project, which focuses on research into Slovak historical photographs created from 1839 till 1918. The project, supported by grants, has been running for two years; its first part will be completed this year. Its main objective is to compile a list of 19th-century photographs held by Slovak state institutions. Koklesová mentioned that Slovakia doesn't seem to have many daguerreotypes. According to the audience however, there is a possibility that some Slovakian examples might exist in foreign collections.

Małgorzata Maria Grąbczewska - Unknown Heritage. The Daguerreotype and Daguerreotypes in Poland.  Because of the ethnic diversity and mobility of the inhabitants of the Polish lands in the 19th century, it is difficult to talk about Polish daguerreotypists or daguerreotypes. This is also reflected in Polish collections of daguerreotypes and in research into the subject. However, Grąbczewska (Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw) emphasizes that because of the research and dedication of many (Polish) scholars, every year new items are discovered, at auctions and in private collections, as well as in public institutions.

Katalin Bognár - History of the Daguerreotype in Hungary as seen through the Daguerreotype Collection of the Hungarian National Museum.  The first reports on Daguerre's invention were published in Hungarian newspapers in February/March, 1839. In 1840, the handbook on making daguerreotypes was translated to Hungarian by Jakab Zimmermann and published in Vienna. The first daguerreotypes in old Hungary were probably produced in 1840. Bognár (Hungarian National Museum, Budapest) emphasizes that because of this early history of daguerreotypes, The Historical Photo Department of the Hungarian National Museum holds 230 daguerreotypes. Also, there are approximately 100 daguerreotypes in other public collections in Hungary. The majority of these early photographs are portraits, and more than thirty of them are proved to have been made in Hungary.

Andreas Gruber - Conservation of daguerreotypes in the Albertina collection.  The Albertina Museum in Vienna houses one of the biggest and most important collections of early Austrian photography, or daguerreotypes, by acquiring the photo collection of the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt as a permanent loan. Gruber (Institut for Paper Conservation, Vienna) also focused on the preservation and conservation of daguerreotypes in the collection.

Ondřej Přibyl - Daguerreotype Process Today.  The presentation entails a brief report about the work of a present-day photographer and his concrete experience with the daguerreotype process. Přibyl's (photographer, Prague) objective is to introduce the unique properties as well as pitfalls of the daguerreotype process, to mediate personal experience in dealing with technical problems, the selection of a process, equipment, choice of material and key phases in making a daguerreotype image.

Petr Kliment - Guided tour of a new permanent photographic exhibition in the NTM in Čelákovice (the Prague outskirts).  The chronological section of the new permanent exhibition in the Narodni Technické Muzeum outlines the development of historical photographic techniques from daguerreotypes to digital photography. In the interactive section of the museum visitors can learn how the setting of the geometrical configuration of the classic plate camera influences the photograph, while another simulator introduces the role of light and creativity to the creation of photographic images.