Open for Business: Photography, Trade, and Self-Image, 1870–1950

September 10, 2019–January 5, 2020


A 19th-century prosthetics workshop, a jazz club featured in the Green Book, and a Polish-American car dealership are vastly different businesses, but owners and workers at all three turned to photography to portray themselves and their work. Open for Business: Photography, Trade, and Self-Image, 1870–1950, a student-curated exhibit at Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library, examines how photography helped small business owners to advertise and represent their shops, goods, and workers. Visitors will encounter historic photographs and objects and explore how entrepreneurship and photography were intertwined. By partnering with the Delaware Historical Society, Open for Business also showcases local business histories, including popular 20th-century Wilmington locales such as The Spot Café, Elsie’s Chicken, and Federal Bakery. The exhibit includes personal interviews and crowdsourced photographs in addition to more than 30 objects from the Winterthur and Delaware Historical Society collections. It will be on view in the Winterthur Galleries.

Submit Your Photos!

Do you want to be part of the exhibit? We are seeking photographs of family businesses—from the dawn of photography to the 1980s. If someone in your family owned or worked at a small business, we’d like to include your photograph(s) as part of our exhibit. Please submit a photograph to Winterthur using our online form, tell us as much as you can about your photograph, and it will appear digitally for visitors to view.


*Image at top: Photograph, America, early 20th century, Silver Gelatin Print, 01x94 Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts & Printed Ephemera, Winterthur Library

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