New Briscoe Exhibition Lets You View Stereographs of Historic San Antonio


  • Briscoe Western Art Museum
In our day and age, stereographs are most often spotted at antique stores or flea markets, but they were once widespread collectibles that offered viewers easy escapes long before the arrival of movies and television. Arriving on the scene in the 1800s, when practical photography was still in its adolescence, stereographs captured imaginations all over the world with a fairly simple format: Nearly identical photographs — shot from slightly different angles in order to mimic the left-eye/right-eye orientation of human sight — were mounted side-by-side on rectangular cards designed to be viewed through a device that essentially tricks the eyes into fusing the two images into a three-dimensional scene. Although it wasn’t the first viewing apparatus for stereographs, Oliver Wendell Holmes created the affordable, accessible, hand-held “stereoscope” that brought the experience into the mainstream.

Collected as keepsakes depicting landmarks, exotic locales and personalities of the era, stereographs now populate archives held by the likes of the Library of Congress (which boasts a stockpile of roughly 52,000) and San Antonio’s own Briscoe Museum of Western Art. Comprising 578 examples, the Briscoe’s collection comes to light this fall in “Destino San Antonio,” an exhibition that paints a historical portrait of the Alamo City through 80 stereographs (to be seen with 3D viewers) depicting everything from San Pedro Springs, Military Plaza and San Fernando Cathedral in the 1870s to Mexican women selling caged birds and “happy childhood in festive array” at an elaborate parade in 1905. Curated by local artist Anne Wallace, “Destino” comes packed with unique programming, including a Stereograph Tour of San Antonio led by Dr. Maggie Valentine ($30-$40, 1-2:30pm Sat-Sun) and a Community Celebration featuring a traditional blessing by Linda Ximenes of the Tribal Council of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation and performances by Accordion Queen Eva Ybarra, multimedia artist David Zamora Casas, German singing society Beethoven Maennerchor and spoken-word artist Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson (free, 6:30pm Tue).

$8-$10, 10am-5pm Fri Sept 21-Sun Sept 22, 10am-9pm Tue Sept 25 (on view through Jan. 21), Briscoe Western Art Museum, 210 W. Market St., (210) 299-4499,

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