Arts & Leisure

Sheldon Museum’s virtual lecture series continues

SAMUEL BROADBENT’S ‘PORTRAIT of an Unidentified African American Woman,” ca. 1850, will be one of the pieces featured in an upcoming virtual lecture hosted by the Sheldon Museum. 
Image courtesy of Library Company of Philadelphia

The Henry Sheldon Museum will present a lecture by historian Michelle Smiley on Jan. 12, at 7 p.m., via Zoom. This is the fourth talk in the “Elephant in the Room: Exploring the Future of Museums” series convened by the Stewart-Swift Research Center.

In this talk, Smiley will discuss American daguerreotype portraiture, its uses as both as a scientific instrument and as a means of picturing loved ones, as well as the photographic portrait as a medium of democratic participation, particularly for African American, Asian, and women subjects. She will explore how 19th-century photographic portrait studios shaped conceptions of “self” and “other” and the sometimes-unlikely places where we may uncover these visual histories in museums and archival collections.

Smiley is a historian of 19th-century photography and American science. Her research examines the history of the daguerreotype in the antebellum United States, and how the objects and processes of photography came to be viewed as democratic media.

This talk, funded by Vermont Humanities, is free and open to all. Additional support for this talk is provided by Dinse. To learn more about the “Elephant in the Room” series and to register for the talk, visit

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