Not an Ostrich: And Other Images from America’s Library at Annenberg Space for Photography, through September 9, 2018

“The exhibition is a collection of nearly 500 images – discovered within a collection of more than 14 million pictures – permanently housed in the world’s largest library at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Put together by the distinguished photography curator Anne Wilkes Tucker, the exhibition features the image entitled Not an Ostrich and a large selection of rare and handpicked works from the vaults of the library, many never widely available to the public. Each picture documents a special moment in America’s culture and history. Tucker, named ‘America’s Best Curator’ by TIME, was granted special access to the photographic archives at the Library of Congress.

The images selected for Not an Ostrich: And Other Images from America’s Library span three centuries of photography (1800s, 1900s, 2000s), simultaneously telling America’s story through evocative imagery, while revealing the evolution of photography itself – from daguerreotypes, the first publicly available photographic process, to contemporary digital images. The exhibition’s name, Not an Ostrich, refers to an actual image included in the collection – a photo of actress Isla Bevan holding an ‘Floradora Goose’ at the 41st Annual Poultry Show at Madison Square Garden – and hints at the unexpected and unusual artifacts collected at the Library of Congress over its 218-year history, some of which will be on display inside the Annenberg Space for Photography”. — Annenberg Space for Photography

Robert Cornelius. Self-portrait, 1839. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Benjamin F. Powelson. Harriet Tubman; a hitherto unknown carte-de-visite in the Emily Howland photograph album, 1868 or 1869. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Gerhard Sisters. Geronimo showing photographers reflected in his eye, c. 1904. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Not an Ostrich: ‘Floradora goose’ at 41st annual Poultry Show, Madison Square Garden, 1930. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Unknown. Brünnhilde, 1936. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Dorothea Lange. Destitute Pea Pickers in California. Mother of Seven Children, age 32. Migrant Mother, 1936. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Toni Frissell. Jacqueline Bouvier and John Kennedy on their wedding day, Newport, RI, 1953. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Michael A. “Tony” Vaccaro. Architectural hats, 1960. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Phillip Harrington. New Designs: Ingo Maurer Bulb, 1970. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Dan Esgro. Bella Lewitzky Dance Company, c. 1970–80. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Sharon Farmer. Beatrice Fergerson, age 97, Washington, DC, 1990. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Carol M. Highsmith. Mammy’s Cupboard restaurant, Natchez, MS, 2008. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Dawoud Bey. Fred Stewart II and Tyler Collins, Birmingham Museum of Art from the series Birmingham: Four Girls, Two Boys, 2012. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Carol M. Highsmith. Tough takedown in the Frontier Days arena, Cheyenne, WY, 2017. (From the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

“What a pleasure and an honor it was to work with the Library of Congress selecting these photographs. Glamour, worship, invention, bravery, humor, cruelty and love – this collection of photographs preserves all examples of our humanity as well as chronicling America’s history in extraordinary photographs. The Library is an inexhaustible trove available for anyone to explore,” said Anne Wilkes Tucker, Curator Emerita of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

“The Library of Congress not only collects and preserves America’s cultural heritage but also works to make those comprehensive collections accessible to as many people as possible. I am so thrilled about this opportunity to present the Library’s rich photography collection at the Annenberg Space for Photography,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “I hope photography and history enthusiasts around Los Angeles and beyond who visit this unprecedented exhibition will have their curiosity piqued about all that is available to them at their national library.”

Images courtesy Annenberg Space for Photography.