In addition to depth, the collection offers us a broad look at Michigan in the latter half of the nineteenth century. From Detroit's Woodward Avenue, unpaved and speckled with horse-drawn carriages, to the UP, including Pictured Rocks' cathedral caverns and the relatively pristine Michigamme Drug Store, with glimpses of the lumber and mining industries in between, to a genteel Grosse Pointe farm, it's a postcard view of Michigan, certainly, but one with jolting details: the gleaming flank of a horse; the axe-handle-distance between a man and an old tree; a multitude of blooming buttercups and daisies; and a long birch bark canoe. These seemingly minor projections and bulges are particulars that, for some of us, lack measure. To gaze into the past in this way--even through the present's red-blue filter--is to be reminded of the smaller daily distances and profundities unique to an era.
The full exhibit--much recommended--is currently on display inside the library and on its website at bentley.umich.edu/exhibits/mich3D/. To view it at home, you'll need a pair of red-and-blue glasses (see website for instructions on requesting a free pair).
[Originally published in June, 2012.]