100 Years – 100 Objects: Kodak Baby Brownie Camera

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Lisa Rebori, the Museum’s Vice President of Collections. She’s chosen a selection of objects that represent our Museum’s history, and our collections of historical technologies, that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org- throughout the year.

baby-brownie-resizedBaby Brownie cameras were one of the many varieties of the Brownie camera made for the Eastman Kodak camera company in the early to mid-1900s. This particular camera, designed by Walter Dorwin Teague in the art deco style, was patented and produced from 1934-1941.

Originally sold for $1.00, the plastic camera ran on 127 film (which was included) and produced 6 x 4 inch images. The Baby Brownie was mainly marketed towards children, and Kodak claimed it was so easy to use that “anybody, man, woman or child, who has sufficient intelligence to point a box straight and press a button” could take successful photographs.

Brownie cameras helped to launch photography as a hobby and the ‘snapshot’ was introduced. Since people no longer needed to understand the technicalities of cameras or the development of film in order to take a picture, cameras became a staple in the American home by the 1950s.

The small size, travel portability, and low cost of the Baby Brownie (developing film cost 40 cents per roll) allowed for a new use of the photographic medium – creating a new window into life in the home, at work, at leisure, and while traveling. Thus, photography was now spontaneous and no longer restricted to the rare family portrait or the work of an artist.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org

Founder Jimmy Wales loves Wikipedia Loves Art

Wikipedia Loves Art has caught the eye of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (you can check out his bio on – of course – Wikipedia).

In the video below, he shares his thoughts on the contest, and how the public perception of Wikipedia has changed, even over just the past few years.

In case you missed our announcement last week, Wikipedia Loves Art is a world-wide, museum-based, photo scavenger hunt. It’s a take-off on Valentine’s Day that shares the love among photographers on Flickr, anyone who’s ever used Wikipedia (read: everyone) and museums across the globe.

You can participate by shooting pictures of the items on the HMNS goal list any time in the month of February – but we’re also hosting a Wikipedia Loves Art meetup on Sunday, Feb. 15 from 6 – 9 p.m. The meetup will include free access to the permanent exhibition halls as well as conservatory and entomology exhibits at the Cockrell Butterfly Center for all registered Wikipedia Loves Art photographers. Before coming to the meetup, please be sure to register online. Check in will be at a table in the Grand Hall.

More details: the Wikipedia Loves Art Flickr page; the Brooklyn Museum’s announcement; and the HMNS meetup post in our group poolon Flickr.

Hope to see you there!

Shutterbugs, unite: Wikipedia loves you! [free stuff]

the trigger
This could be you, at
Wikipedia Loves Art at HMNS.
Creative Commons License photo credit: karlrobin

The always spectacular Brooklyn Museum has an all-new round of awesome for us in February: Wikipedia Loves Art – a world-wide, museum-based, photo scavenger hunt. It’s a take-off on Valentine’s Day that shares the love among photographers on Flickr, anyone who’s ever used Wikipedia (read: everyone) and museums across the globe.

The goal: to create free content that can be used to illustrate educational articles across an almost unimaginable range of topics in everyone’s favorite online encyclopedia. If your photos are chosen for use on Wikipedia, you’ll get full credit in the caption – even better, you can win great prizes!

As it turns out, Wikipedia loves science, too – and your friendly local science museum is participating! Check out our goal list as well as our photography guidelines and get ready to start shooting! All that’s required is the ability to identify an object and take a snapshot that shows it off – anyone with a point and shoot camera and a free Flickr account can participate. (To sign up for Flickr, go here and click “Create Your Account.” You can also take a tour first to explore.)

love is in the air
Creative Commons License photo credit: GcD^3 pictures

More details: the Wikipedia Loves Art Flickr page; the Brooklyn Museum’s announcement; and the HMNS meetup post in our group pool on Flickr.

You can shoot at HMNS any time in the month of February – but we’re also hosting a Wikipedia Loves Art meetup on Sunday, Feb. 15 from 6 – 9 p.m. The meetup will include free accessto the permanent exhibition halls as well as conservatory and entomology exhibits at the Cockrell Butterfly Center for all registered Wikipedia Loves Art photographers. Before coming to the meetup, please be sure to register online . Check in will be at a table in the Grand Hall.

Hope to see you at the meetup! And Happy Valentine’s!