In 1849, the Philadelphia daguerreotypists William and Frederick Langenheim introduced the lantern slide: a transparent image on glass that could be projected, in magnified form, onto a surface using a "magic lantern," or sciopticon. This new technology expanded the uses of photography, allowing photographic images to be viewed by a large audience. With lantern slides, Museum curators and educators could illustrate their lectures, letting audience members see detailed studies of objects and sites from around the world.
The Brooklyn Museum's lantern slide collection was started by the Museum's curator of fine arts, William Henry Goodyear, in the late nineteenth century. With the assistance of the photographers Joseph Hawkes and John McKecknie, Goodyear reproduced images of archaeological and architectural sites in Europe as well as images of the Paris Exposition, which Hawkes often hand-colored for more realistic effect. The lantern slide collection also developed through the efforts of the curator of ethnology, Stewart Culin, and his successor Herbert Spinden, who created and purchased images of objects and sites. The Brooklyn Museum’s Library now holds 11,710 glass lantern slides. Read more about the history of the lantern slide collection.