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'Snapshots in Time'

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A LOOK BACK:Alexandria Blong, curator at the Peru Community Schools Fine Art Gallery, looks over items that are part of the “Snapshots in Time” exhibit on Monday.
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IN THE LIGHT:Glass slides of historical photographs, a stereoscope and stereoscope slides on display at the Peru Community Schools Fine Art Gallery on Monday.
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HISTORY CAPTURED:Photographs ondisplay as part of the “Snapshots in Time” exhibit at thePeru Community Schools Fine Art Gallery onMonday.

BY JARED KEEVER - jkeever@perutribune.com

Visitors to the Peru Community Schools Fine Art Gallery for the next few months will get to see a few literal snapshots of history.

That’s thanks to an exhibit at the high school gallery featuring newly printed late-19th and early-20th century photographs from a collection of glass slides created by the New York company Underwood & Underwood.

“The exhibit opened the beginning of June and it will be here until November,” curator Alexandria Blong told the Tribune on Monday.

The slides, she said, belong to gallery board member Chris Swales, who, with the help of his daughter and son-in-law, Chris and Emma Skees, arranged to have a handful of photographs printed from the slides. 

The trio is scheduled to give a talk about the process on Aug. 25 as part of the gallery’s “Sundays at the Gallery” series.

The advertised title for the 2 p.m. talk is “Underwood & Underwood: Pioneers of American Photojournalism” and will cover some of the history of the New York firm who initially produced stereoscopic slides – an early medium for viewing photographs with added depth – but evolved into a photojournalism company, providing photos for newspapers around the country.

Swales said Monday that he thinks of the talk as a story of “from discovery to display” and he will walk attendees through how he came to be in possession of the slides and how his daughter and son-in-law – who both have backgrounds and training in photography and photo editing – helped create the prints.

Swales said he found the slides at a yard sale in Richmond and bought a few of the owner’s collection, but as he drove home that day he said he had a feeling that his daughter might be interested in them so he called up the owner and said he would buy the whole lot.

“I figured, ‘You know what, they could probably do something with these,’” he said.

Visitors to the museum can now see those prints as well as a number of the slides – some of them in color – displayed on a light table alongside some old stereoscope slides as well. The exhibit is called “Snapshots in Time.”

The prints include a photo of pygmies at a world’s fair and various snaps of lumbermen and mountaineers in California and Washington state. Slides include photos from around the world.

Both Swales and Blong seemed happy that the exhibit and talk may attract new visitors to the gallery and expose them not only the photographs but the G. David Thompson core collection as well.

And Swales seemed happy that he was in a position, through his family connections, to bring the slides back to the light. Someone else, afterall, could have bought them at that yard sale.

“Then that would have been the end of it,” he said. “But I had access to people who would know what to do with them.”

The Peru Community Schools Fine Art Gallery, located inside Peru High School, is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be open 1 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 25 for the 2 p.m. presentation by Swales and Chris and Emma Skees.