Opening this Month: “After Promontory”

 In MOA Features

Russell, Andrew J. Photograph, 10 x 13 inches. Oakland Museum of California.

On May 10, 1869, two railroads—built with haste, hope, and aspiration—joined in a lonely, dry desert of northern Utah at a place called Promontory. Promontory was an inflection point in the history of the American West—as well as the country as a whole—a moment that both symbolically and literally gave birth to a region of measurement, colonization, and extraction, to what historian Donald Worster has called “the engineered West.”

After Promontory, a photography exhibition exploring the significance and lasting impact of railroads in America, opens March 29, 2019, at the BYU Museum of Art. Curated in collaboration with the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, this exhibition features photographs from collections across the West by celebrated American photographers such as William Henry Jackson, Timothy O’Sullivan, and Carleton Watkins, as well as contemporary photographs.

Russell, Andrew J. “Side cut Green R. Chesebro & Magee #184 Engine on Tracks.” Photograph, 11 x 11 inches. Oakland Museum of California.

MOA Curator Ashlee Whitaker brought this exhibition to the MOA in order to showcase the historical significance of this monumental achievement and its aftermath. She said, “In these rich photographs, we see the growth of a nation-wide railroad system throughout America, the popular appeal of the railroad on American culture, and the impact of the railroad on indigenous tribes. We also recognize the various ethnic minorities through whose arduous efforts the railroad was constructed.”

Additionally, rarely-seen photographs from the holdings of the BYU Library’s L. Tom Perry Special Collections were added to the exhibition to demonstrate Utah’s vital role in building the transcontinental railroad.

MOA Educator Lynda Palma promises, “Visitors will witness the seemingly insurmountable challenges encountered, the engineering miracles that were accomplished, the technological advances that arose, and the financial boon that changed the face of America.”

In conjunction with the opening of After Promontory, the Center for Railroad Photography and Art will hold their annual conference at the BYU Museum of Art on March 29-30. Registration is required and will be available on-site on March 29.

After Promontory will be on display at the BYU Museum of Art from March 29, 2019, through October 5, 2019. The exhibition opening will be celebrated on the evening of March 29 from 7-10 at the MOA’s Art After Dark event.

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