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July 3, 2020

Exploring Images of John Brown

Perhaps more than any other figure connected with abolitionist cause in America, John Brown was a polarizing presence, depicted as demon or martyr depending upon the goals of the artist and the intended audience. An image featured in the new exhibition Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery emphasizes Brown’s resurrected image after the Civil War, when the Union victory confirmed for many the merits of his purpose even if they disapproved of his methods. The print reminds us that portraits are not neutral images. They are artifacts of a certain time and place, shaped by the motives of creators and sitters and geared to the expectations of specific audiences.

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June 4, 2020

Resilience in Ruffles: A New Look at Pittsburgh’s Suffrage Shirtwaist Ball

While the Shirtwaist Ball’s basic story has been told, examining it more closely within the context of the suffrage movement and anti-suffrage imagery underlines the resilience of the Pennsylvania women who sponsored it and who fought so long and creatively for women’s right to vote.

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May 20, 2020

Treatment of the Portrait Miniature of Ebenezer Denny

ACE conservators, Ana Alba and Rhonda Wozniak, recently treated a portrait miniature from the collection of the Heinz History Center. Portrait miniatures are unique works of art, requiring specialization in the conservation of both painted surfaces and decorative arts.

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