Photography is a profound medium of art, allowing us to capture a place in time and walk away with a tangible memento of the memory. Photos are also a portal to the past, offering a glimpse of what life might have been like in years gone by. When it comes to understanding what life was like before the current era, photos are one of the best resources we have to visualize the conditions, environments, and phenomena that dominated that time. And what better way to appreciate and reflect on the art of photography than with a day at the museum?
On Saturday, February 3rd, the New Jersey State Museum will be unveiling their latest exhibit, “Discovering Grant Castner: The Lost Archive of a New Jersey Photographer“. The exhibit, which will remain on view from February 3rd through September 15th, will feature the work of Grant Castner, a prolific New Jersey-based photographer who worked from the 1890s to the 1910s. In the exhibit, you will be transported back to Castner’s era, giving audiences a greater insight into the life, times, and creations of this remarkable artist. A distant look at an era gone by in the Garden State, this exhibit offers viewers a unique opportunity to discover the New Jersey of our ancestors.
In 2019, the New Jersey State Museum was offered a donation of more than 1,200 glass plate negatives of Grant Castner’s work. Castner, born in 1863, was an amateur photographer born just north of here in Belvidere, located in Warren County. Later in his career, however, Castner would go on to live and work right here in the Capital City. Castner lived to be 78 years old before his passing in 1941, and throughout his life, he was responsible for the creation of thousands of photographs, many of which are now on display at the NJ State Museum. And as one gets to know Castner’s work, one can also catch a glimpse at what New Jersey was really like at the time of his creations.
The exhibit, which features over 200 of Castner’s photos, highlights numerous aspects of New Jersey history. From hard-working New Jerseyans on the job to heartwarming family portraits, there is plenty to be discovered regarding our state’s past. The display is a heartfelt reminder that although much has changed since Castner’s time, much has still remained the same. Castner’s photos offer an inspiring perspective on the beauty of ordinary life: children on their way to school, railroads and transportation bustling with busy workers, and the nature that paints the canvas of our daily existence.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more prior to the unveiling of the exhibit, please contact the New Jersey State Museum at (609) 292-6464 for additional details. For more information on this and other upcoming exhibits at the museum, please check out the NJSM website, linked here: NJSM – Home. This exhibit will be here and gone in a flash, so be sure to mark your calendars for this remarkable display.