Rediscovering Daguerroeotype

  • February 17, 2015
  • 7:00 PM
  • UR / LLE East Lobby

Title:Rediscovering Daguerreotype

Speakers: Ralph Wiegandt, Dr. Nicholas Bigelow



The Daguerreotype was introduced to the world on August 19, 1839. Its discovery was recognized as both a culturally and scientifically transformative event. This talk will place the daguerreotype in its historical context by describing the process as introduced by Daguerre, and subsequent improvements to the process. The key emphasis is to draw attention to the daguerreotype as an astounding physico-chemical achievement that just happened to capture focused light at extraordinary high resolution –limited primarily by the primitive art of lens making in the mid-nineteenth century. Ongoing NSF funded research at the University of Rochester is revealing that the generally accepted material science explanation of the process and characterization of the daguerreotype is incomplete, and largely incorrect. This talk will introduce the daguerreotype as an object of nanotechnology, and that its physical properties conform predominately to principles of nanostructured materials.


Ralph Wiegandt is a Research Conservator and NSF co-investigator on the SCIART grant. He began his career in the conservation of artistic and cultural materials as an objects conservator. Following his graduate training at Buffalo State Art Conservation Program, he served as conservator at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, the Rochester Museum & Science Center in Rochester and George Eastman House and International Museum of Photography. His involvement in photograph conservation began in 2003 as an advisor to the Advanced Residency Program in Photograph Conservation at George Eastman House -- he subsequently completed a residency fellowship. Through the subsequent years Ralph has become one of the world leaders in daguerreotype conservation projects and conducting daguerreotype research.

Dr. Nicholas Bigelow is the Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Physics and of Optics at the University of Rochester, and is the Principle Investigator on a collaborative National Science Foundation "SCIART" (Science in the Service of Art) grant on the understanding and preservation of the daguerreotype. His core research work centers on the laser cooling and trapping of atoms.



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