Historic Deutschtown museum exhibit features after-life oddities


Photo by Justin Criado

With the beginning of fall it’s time to get in to the Halloween spirit. The Photo Antiquities museum on 531 East Ohio St. in Historic Deutschtown has an exhibit that’s sure to excite, and maybe fright, visitors just in time for Oct. 31.



DSC_7781Photo by Justin Criado

Photo Antiquities founder Bruce Klein changes the photographs in his Spirits! Good and Evil exhibit, which he put up this month and will run until Halloween, Oct. 31. The exhibit features post mortem and “spirit” photos from the mid-1800s.



Photo by Justin Criado

Klein, who also owns Bernie’s Camera Center on East Ohio Street, said post mortem photographs became popular in 1840 when a high infant mortality rate caused parents to take pictures of their deceased children in remembrance. Most post mortem photos were the family’s only photograph of the child so parents and photographers would pose the children to make it look like they were sleeping or resting, according to Klein.


DSC_7786Photo by Justin Criado

“Spirit” photographs require a double-exposure technique which gives the illusion that someone or something in a particular photo is translucent or ghost-like. In this photo provided by the Photo Antiquities museum you can see a woman sitting in a chair holding a guitar (left photo, right of the frame).  A closer look will reveal what appears to be another woman dressed in a long gown with her head bowed in the middle of the picture.  The title “Only a Dream” seems fitting enough.


DSC_7788Photo by Justin Criado

Most spirit photos were taken in remembrance of a loved one or conveyed messages of affection or ownership. The museum features both types of photos. Klein, who has been in the photography business for over 40 years, said spirit photos are hard to find. He found most of the ones he has in the museum by chance, he said.



Photo by Justin Criado 

A memorial matte like the one shown above (middle photo) was a popular way to carry the memory of a loved one with you. Unlike today where most pictures are taken on cell phones or saved on SD cards, 19th century photography was an art as well as a curiosity. Klein said Native Americans believed if their picture was taken they lost part of their soul.


The Spirits! Good and Evil exhibit is scheduled to run until Oct. 30, but Klein said in years past he’s left it up longer because the response and interest has been so overwhelming.

“It’s just curiosity,” Klein said. “People just like to see stuff that’s out of the ordinary.”

For more information on the museum’s schedule visit the official website.

And for you Halloween fanatics, more ghosts, hauntings and paranormal investigations will be revealed in the Chronicle’s October issue so if you’re not afraid of the dark, stay tuned.




Northside Chronicle Town Hall Subscription