A peek into our collections, one object at a time

American Garden Glass Lantern Slide

March 29, 2012

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American Garden Glass Lantern Slide, c. 1930
Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens

American Garden Glass Lantern Slide, c. 1930

Spring has sprung! This week’s Smithsonian Snapshot celebrates the season’s new blooms with this 1930s hand-painted glass lantern slide of Hammersmith Farm in Newport, R.I. The slide is from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens. 

In 1992, more than 3,000 glass lantern slides featuring early 20th-century American gardens were donated to the Smithsonian by the Garden Club of America, forming the core collection of the Archives of American Gardens. 

The GCA members used this collection for educational lectures on notable gardens throughout the U.S. The slides provide some of the only clues we have to the original garden designs from the early 20th century. The collection is available for research purposes at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens. 

In 1849, glass lantern slides were introduced by placing a negative on 3-by-5 inch light-sensitive glass and exposing it to light. After exposure, the image was developed and hand-colored using special tints. The slides were projected onto a surface creating a large viewing format for an audience—this format was appropriate for entertainment and education. 

The Smithsonian has more than 35 acres of gardens on the National Mall. To learn more, visit the Smithsonian Gardens’ website. For more info about this item visit the Smithsonian’s collection search website