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‘Sons and Daughters’ by Albert Schlechten. PHOTO COURTESY OF MOR PHOTO ARCHIVE

Three artists and a new exhibit at Museum of The Rockies

By Alicia Harvey MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES

BOZEMAN – Thirty-eight years ago, Steven B. Jackson, a Bozeman native, was hired by Museum of the Rockies to catalog the recently acquired Schlechten photography collection, which features over 30,000 images by three photographers: Albert, Alfred and Chris Schlechten.

Arriving in Bozeman in 1900, the Schlechtens established a photography studio that would ultimately span two generations and 78 years, and Albert soon began shooting a series of landscapes using an 11-by-14-inch glass plate camera, creating a collection of over 175 individual landscapes. Upon crossing paths with their works, Jackson instantly cherished the dramatic landscapes and the way the light on the land allowed fine details to emerge.

He was also intrigued by the time capsule snapshots of both the frontier and small town sides of life found in and around Bozeman.

‘Undine Falls’ by Albert Schlechten. PHOTO COURTESY OF MOR PHOTO ARCHIVE

Zoom to present day, and Jackson, who holds a Bachelor of Science in film and photography from Montana State University and a Master of Fine Arts in photography and printmaking from the University of Florida, has been MOR’s curator of art and photography for 35 years and has served as an adjunct professor with the School of Film and Photography at MSU since 1984.

Jackson’s research areas include historical and contemporary art and photography, the preservation and management of photograph collections, and the digitizing and database design solutions for online access to museum collections. He teaches MSU courses on the history of photography, photography theory and criticism, and senior capstone projects. Therefore, and quite naturally, the works of the Schlechtens piqued his interest.

Just as Albert had a passion for capturing images on dry glass-plate negatives, Jackson longed to bring Schlechten’s 11-by-14-inch photos into the light and share them with museum visitors and members; in 2016, the MOR Photo Archive began making digital scans and enlarged prints from the original glass plates, and Jackson’s dream is today a reality with 40 stunning images on display through Dec. 31, 2019, at MOR. 

Steve Jackson at a MOR lecture. PHOTO COURTESY OF SHAWN RAECKE

Jackson’s exhibit, “Light on the Land: The Photographs of Albert Schlechten,” the latest in a string of successful exhibitions featuring fine art, photography and history he has curated, is a Museum of the Rockies’ original exhibition presenting the dramatic and beautiful natural world of southwest Montana and Yellowstone National Park.

“Albert Schlechten’s important photographic work deserves to be recognized as a significant part of American photographic history, capturing the light and land of his world through the lens of his camera,” Jackson said.

View additional photos and exhibition details at museumoftherockies.org/light. Alicia is the Director of Marketing at Museum of the Rockies and can be reached at alicia.harvey@montana.edu.

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