Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with NOMA, this landmark exhibition is the first to exclusively explore a vivid chapter of America’s photographic history—nineteenth-century American landscape photography made east of the Mississippi River.

To date, pictures of the American west have dominated the canon of nineteenth-century American landscape photography. Many exhibitions and books have investigated the work of photographers such as Timothy O’Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, and William Henry Jackson, each of whom extensively documented the western landscape. Although many photographers worked in the eastern half of the United States, their pictures, with the exception of Civil War images, have seldom been exhibited. Yet eastern landscape photographs are not only visually arresting, but also revealing of American national preoccupations in ways that often differ from their western counterparts. They helped shape evolving mythologies of the American wilderness, revealed the impact of the Civil War on the physical landscape, and played an important role in industrialization and environmental preservation.

Curated by Diane Waggoner, Associate Curator, Department of Photographs, National Gallery of Art, Washington and Russell Lord, Freeman Family Curator of Photographs, NOMA, East of the Mississippi brings together over 150 works—daguerreotypes, salt prints, albumen prints, stereographic images, and paintings ranging from the 1840s to the 1890s. It is presented in six sections, expressing a diverse set of aesthetic, moral, topographic, and instrumental concerns.

East of the Mississippi is supported by the Freeman Family Curatorial Fund, the A. Charlotte Mann and Joshua Mann Pailet Endowment Fund, the Azby Museum Fund, The Helis Foundation, and Tim L. Fields, Esq. Additional support provided by Delta Air Lines.