Not an Ostrich: And Other Images from America’s Library is the result of celebrated American photography curator Anne Wilkes Tucker’s excavation of nearly 500 images—out of a collection of over 14 million—permanently housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. While visitors to the exhibition might never see an ostrich, they will see the image entitled “Not an Ostrich” and a large selection of rare and handpicked works from the vaults of the world’s largest library, many never widely available to the public.
This exhibition spans across the history of photography—from daguerreotypes, the first photographic process, to contemporary digital prints. Iconic portraits of Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Cesar Chavez, and Elizabeth Taylor appear alongside unusual images, such as, Stanley Kubrick’s “Strong Man’s Family” (1947), John Vachon’s “Ice Fishing, Minnesota” (1956), Susana Raab’s “Chicken in Love, Athens, OH” (2006) and Nina Berman’s “Flammable Faucet #4, Monroeton, PA” (2011). Vivid color portrayals of America, across time, are highlighted in juxtapositions of popular travel views from the late 19th century, created by the Detroit Publishing Company using the then-latest “photochrom” technology, on a screen next to striking contemporary scenes captured by Carol M. Highsmith.
America’s Library—a documentary film produced by the Annenberg Foundation—featuring interviews with exhibit photographers, historians, authors, political figures, and civil rights leaders, along with inside access to the Library of Congress, will also be shown at the Space.
We have also partnered with StoryCorps, an organization whose mission is to preserve and share stories to strengthen and build connections between people. Visitors will be invited to step inside a gleaming silver Airstream trailer to interview a friend, family member, or record their own thoughts. Every story told will be submitted for inclusion in the audio archives of the Library of Congress as an invaluable resource for future generations. A carefully curated General Store, featuring family-owned small-batch producers of unique American-made goods, hand selected from all across the country, will allow guests to bring a piece of authentic Americana home.
A nation’s story is a reflection of its collective—and selective—memory. Not an Ostrich: And Other Images from America’s Library invites visitors to experience our shared heritage.