Two American history shows -- one looking at the sweeping changes spawned by the transcontinental railroad and the other at how Civil War photographs influenced the ways the nation grieved -- will highlight the 2012 exhibition season at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
"Visions of Empire: The Quest for a Railroad Across America, 1840-1880" will run April 21 to July 23. The show -- which taps into the Huntington's trove of letters, diaries, tourist guidebooks and other material -- will tell tales of engineering and entrepreneurship and examine the Iron Horse's social, political and economic impact. The subject has special resonance for the Huntington because its founder, Henry E. Huntington, was the nephew of Collis P. Huntington, one of the "Big Four" of American railroading.
"A Strange and Fearful Interest: Death, Mourning, and Memory in the American Civil War" will run Oct. 13, 2012, to Jan. 14, 2013. More than 150 photographs by Mathew Brady, George N. Barnard, Alexander Gardner and Andrew J. Russell will be presented in the first show drawn exclusively from the Huntington's collection of Civil War-related images.
The Huntington also is announcing Thursday an addition to its 2011 calendar: the first public display of a group of Chinese bronze mirrors spanning 3,000 years. "Ancient Chinese Bronze Mirrors from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection," which will run Nov. 12 to May 14, will feature about 80 intricately decorated items from the Qijia Culture (c. 2100 to 1700 B.C.) to the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234).