At the end of this years Society for Photographic Education South Central conference, co chair Kent Rush led a small group to Austin to meet Roy Flukinger, Senior Research Curator of Photography at the Ransom Center. Flukinger showed us the public areas of the building and selected pieces from the Gernsheim collection for us to view.
Temperature, humidity, and light levels are some of the main conservation concerns. The building's lighting, temperature and humidity are completely controlled. Lights are UV and infrared shielded. The windows have screens to block out daylight and the overhead lighting is dimmable.
From the collection, we saw work by photographers including Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, and Carleton E. Watkins. We were also shown examples including an albumen print, a wax paper negative, and a pre-photographic era (1810) camera obscura.
The collection has around 600 pieces of 19th century photography apparatus, Flukinger said.
Until we set up our own class tour to the collection, click this link to hear Flukinger introduce the collectors, the hunt for the first photograph, and how the Gernsheim collection was brought to The University of Texas at Austin.
For more information, visit http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/multimedia/audio/