The San Antonio Time Machine--Briscoe Museum Debuts 19th Century Pictures

posted by Jim Forsyth - 

Call it the 19th century version of high definition.

News Radio 1200 WOAI reports the Briscoe Western Art Museum in downtown San Antonio is placing on display dozens of late 19th Century images of San Antonio which were taken by using a technology that created stunningly lifelike images by photographing the same object in slightly different angles.  

Then, when viewed through an object called a 'stereopticon,' which was kind of like a 'virtual reality headset,' circa 1875, the viewer would see the object or the person in what appears to be 3-D.

"It really is quite fascinating just to see the people that lived here, what the architecture looked like, many of the same buildings that still exist today, but to see them back in 1880s," said Briscoe spokeswoman Sharon Garcia.

The exhibition, called Destino San Antonio, opens on Friday, and runs through January.Many of the images, all of which are in the Briscoe's private collection, have never been placed on public display before.

"There are a lot of images of Military Plaza," she said.  "So really getting to see what it was used for, it really was a center of commerce, vendors, businesses, people selling horses."

Military Plaza is the square where San Antonio City Hall now stands.

It also includes images of the Alamo, early parades, festivals, and other events, San Pedro Springs Park, and people.  Lots of people. 

Garcia says this exhibition will demonstrate that 'diversity' is not just a 21st Century catchphrase.

"It is amazing the diversity of San Antonio in the late 19th Century," she said.  "There were several Native American groups which lived inside what we would call the 'city limits.'  There were African Americans, some of whom were buisness owners, which was very unusual at that time, along with Spaniards, Germans, Mexicans..."

The key is the ability to look at frontier San Antonio in an whole new way, different from the flat, grainy photographs were used to seeing from that period.

"The Briscoe is thrilled to present a rate snapshot of San Antonio's history as it developed into the city that it is today," Briscoe President and CEO MIchael Duchemin said.  "As part of the city's Tricentennial Celebration, we hope to engage the local community with vivid imagery, perspectives, and programming that connect us all."

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