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300 for SA300: Photos celebrating San Antonio’s history on display at ITC

August 13, 2018

As a way to celebrate San Antonio’s 300th anniversary this year, the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) teamed up with Special Collections to create a new exhibit, “San Antonio: 1860s-1990s A Photographic Chronology from UTSA Special Collections.”  The exhibit, which opened on August 4th, is made up of 300 images selected by Photographs Curator Tom Shelton to span the portion of San Antonio’s history that can be represented with this artistic medium.

The photos are grouped together by decade, enabling visitors to view the city’s past chronologically and get a taste of the spirit of the times.  Visitors are able to move from the 1860s forward through subsequent decades, and observe changes in San Antonio. The images showcase the flow of the city’s growth, as it developed from narrow streets with horses and buggies into the downtown skyline and urban footprint that we know today.  Most importantly, visitors can see the people who inhabited the city, as captured by photographers hired by families, businesses and newspapers in San Antonio.  Photographs on display primarily come from the San Antonio Light Collection, the San Antonio Express-News Collection, the Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, and the General Photograph Collection.  Among some of the most popular images in these collections there are many newly digitized photos that provide fresher perspectives of everyday life in the city.

Adjacent to this noteworthy exhibit at the ITC is space with sample images from the online exhibit created by UTSA Special Collections in celebration of the Tricentennial: “La Puerta: A Photographic Journey of San Antonio.”  Visitors can interact with a special touch screen kiosk to browse images selected from 12 themes (and you can view it online anytime!).

Watching the crowds of attendees walk through the exhibit at the opening reception I was heartened to see how many people were talking to each other, as they looked at images that reminded them of some part of their past or even informed them of previous iterations of places they see every day.  People took their own pictures of the prints and captions to share with their friends and whipped out their smart phones to find out more about the people and places mentioned in the captions (and more than one of us chuckled as we were reminded of the fashions and marketing hype of decades past).  During the opening speeches in the dome the crowd was treated to projections of photos from both exhibits as speakers talked about the City’s history, the significance of its 300th year, and invited the audience to imagine what the next decades will bring to San Antonio’s ever-evolving landscapes and people.

Both exhibits run through March 31, 2019 at the Institute of Texan Cultures.  Photos in the exhibit can also be found online in the UTSA Libraries Digital Collections.

Below are a handful of images from the exhibit’s opening (you can see a few more on our Instagram):

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 13, 2018 12:07 pm

    Reblogged this on stillness of heart and commented:
    Looks magnificent

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