Like the look of "The Artist,'' the black-and-white silent film that swept this year's Oscars?
You may want to check out the latest exhibit at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona, which features black-and-white photos taken by famous Pennsylvania Railroad photographer William H. Rau.
The movie's popularity has sparked interest in other black-and-white film genres, including photography, said SAMA-Altoona coordinator Barbara Hollander, who schedules rotation of the 600 Rau photographs that SAMA oversees for the Altoona Area Public Library, which owns the collection.
Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich
“Pennsylvania Limited, on Horseshoe Curve,” a photograph by Pennsylvania Railroad photographer William Herman Rau, is among the collection of Rau’s photography at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona.
"I think people are recognizing the beauty that there is in black-and-white photography,'' Hollander said.
The popularity of non-colored photos is spreading, and the starker images aren't limited to just museums, Hollander said.
"With wedding photography, we're seeing more and more black-and-white photos,'' she said.
If you go
What: "William H. Rau: Panorama Portraits of Travel" photo exhibit
When: Through June 23
Where: Southern Alleghenies Musem of Art at Altoona, 1210 11th Ave.
Details: Admission is free, the museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, www.sama-art.org
The hundreds of Rau photos Hollander helps to display are grouped by themes, such as a series of photos Rau took of rivers or another series on canals.
"It's like turning on a silent movie," she said. "It's low-key in its showing, starting out in a slow way, and then it develops as you go along.''
Usually, samplings of Rau's photos are exhibited every six months, and the next showing wasn't scheduled until the fall, she said.
But because the Penn State Alumni Association will be visiting the area this weekend, Hollander was happy to reschedule the 30-photo exhibit, this one entitled "William H. Rau: Panorama Portraits of Travel." The alumni association has many railroad fans among its members, said C. David Kimmel, associate director of alumni relations and stewardship for Penn State Altoona.
"We thought it would be great to show them the Rau exhibit,'' Kimmel said. "We have people coming from all different parts of the country. This is one of the many opportunities like this we have lined up for them this weekend.''
The photos the Penn Staters will see were taken starting in 1891, when the Pennsylvania Railroad first hired Rau, said guest curator and SAMA-Altoona administrative assistant Stan Snyder, who chose the photos for this exhibit. The railroad wanted photos to use in advertising to try to boost ridership, Snyder said.
Snyder set up the photos in a circle so that the visitor can enter from either the right or the left, exactly as a passenger would travel the rails either from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia or the reverse direction, seeing the sites along the way. He wanted the viewer to take a trip back in time and see nature outside the train's windows about 100 years ago as Rau's camera first captured it.
The exhibit includes photos of areas such as Harrisburg and McVeytown and winds around the Horseshoe Curve and to the old Altoona train station.