A recent addition to the permanent collection at the DeVos Art Museum, photo albums from the Longyear family shed light on their travels in the early 1900s.
Melissa Matuscak, the museum director and curator at DeVos, said the albums had been found in storage at the Jacobetti Center 25 years ago.
On Thursday, the DeVos Museum opened up the Longyear exhibit which features a collection of photographs from family vacations to Europe, including Greece, Italy and France.
“It’s cool that the family has so carefully documented these events and their travels,” Matuscak said.
One of the photos shows workers setting up the tents and attractions for the World Fair of 1900 in Paris.
From 1890 to 1891, John Munro Longyear was the mayor of Marquette.
He founded the Huron Mountain Club and the Arctic Coal Company, which created jobs for many workers in Marquette.
Longyear also donated lands and funds to NMU, then called the Northern Michigan Normal School.
This selection of photographs from the Longyear family is part of a larger collection of art called “What’s Old is Contemporary: Selections from the Permanent Art Collection.”
This collection includes work from previous students.
“Katie (Archambeault) worked really hard selecting the photos and researching the history and Matt (McKindles) did a great job scanning and preparing these prints to be displayed in the collection,” Matuscak said.
Matuscak said she is proud of the work that Archambeault and McKindles put into the display.
“It’s a unique chance to see the practical side of an art major,” Matuscak said. “These students are capable and are actually doing some very serious work here.”
Katie Archambeault, junior art history major, was the leading force in transforming a collection of albums into a display in the museum.
“It took a lot of organizing to decide which photos to include,” Archambeault said. “I had to choose only 20 from hundreds of photographs. Some of them I really liked, but they didn’t contribute to the overall collection.”
Archambeault said she believed the family hired a photographer to travel with them because of the complexity and level of skill needed to work the photograph equipment of the time.
“These old albums were very professionally done, complete with advertisements from stores,” Archambeault said. “Some of the photographs even had a hand written dialogue describing where they were and who they were with. They definitely didn’t cut any corners.”
Archambeault said she was glad the Longyear family was given some recognition of what they had contributed to Marquette.
“The Longyear family has contributed so much to Marquette and to Northern, but they have not been receiving the recognition that they deserve,” Archambeault said.
In the Longyear exhibition, photos of Marquette landmarks are displayed next to current photos in the same location.
“I wanted to show the places they had been with side-by-side comparisons,” Archambeault said. “I also wanted to show what their family and what their life was like. Traveling wasn’t just a plane trip away for them. It was a voyage.”
Matt McKindles, a senior photography major, helped with the technical aspects of getting the display ready for the public.
“I’m excited because it is just a cool part of history,” McKindles said.
Part of his job was to scan the images in the albums and to make digital copies.
The original photos are more than 100 years old and are very light sensitive, making them difficult to display in their original form.
“I feel a great sense of accomplishment,” McKindles said. “I was happy to be a part of it.”
McKindles said students should check out the display when it opens.
“It is just really interesting to look back in time and to see how things were done differently and to see the photographer’s perspective of their world,” McKindles said.
For more information on the exhibit or to view their hours of operation, visit www.art.nmu.edu.