Many of us travel around with a smart phone in their pocket and use the camera to do everything from remind us where we are parked, keep a photo of a product in a store we want to buy, share your dinner with social media or just take a photo of a precious family moment.
With the technology today, those cellphone cameras are arguably as good as some of the more expensive cameras around, but the biggest difference is, it is usually with you and not safely stored in a camera bag. The saying goes, “The best camera is the one you have with you,” and leaving the house without our phones is almost unheard of.
I teach a photography class, and you would be surprised the number of the younger generation that cannot identify what film is let alone the concept of sending it away and waiting for photos to come back by United States Postal Service.
So my next trip I am sending you on is a great little museum in Pittsburgh called the Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History. So pack the munchkins, download the Pittsburgh parking app (Go Mobile PGH) and take your copy of The Meadville Tribune with this article for a special $2 discount on admission into the museum.
A couple words of warning, the museum does not have a credit card reader, so be sure to take cash with you for your admission fees, and the parking is on-street with meters that are controlled by a centrally located machine. The absolute easiest way to pay for parking is with the app and your phone, but you can also use cash or card. For those who are not as familiar with this type of system, make sure you make note of your space number and your license plate number.
The museum is located at 531 E. Ohio St and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays. The cost is $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors 65 and older, and those younger than 5 are free. A guided tour of the museum by the owner is included, and this makes the fee well worth the price.
Everything you can imagine from the world of photography is in this very organized space, and the kids will be amazed how photos used to be made in early 1800s. A collection of very rare photos and equipment make this a must-see for any picture-taking enthusiast. The room of cameras will take you back down memory lane to some of the cameras your family might have used when you were a child.
A notable feature of this museum is a few slides from the Keystone View Co., which has its roots in our very own town. B.L. Singley founded Keystone View in 1892, and to make a long story short, it all started when French Creek overflowed into town. There were 30 original photos of this event in double prints pasted onto cardboard with the name Keystone View Co.
In 1898, they began to make and sell the stereoscopic viewers and by 1905 it was the largest of its type of business in the world. In 1972, the Keystone View, as we knew it in Meadville, was closed and later the building (which was located next to the PNC drive-thru on Park Avenue) was torn down.
After you take your trip to Pittsburgh, be sure to visit the Johnson-Shaw Stereoscopic Museum located at 423 Chestnut St. in Meadville. The museum opens for the season in April and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment only 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Friday (call 720-4306 to schedule).
It is interesting to learn about how important Meadville was in the history of photography. Long before motion pictures and television sets, families would invite friends over to view the new slides of places and things they had only over heard of.
The kids will get the chance to learn how about some of the simpler things that were treasured and enjoyed as well as see how far photography has come in just a relatively short period of time. Donations at the Johnson-Shaw are gladly accepted.
As you stroll through photographic history, remember not all who wander are lost.