Chrysler’s new photography exhibit documents Norfolk’s boom years

Norfolk, Va. – The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk will be opening a new exhibition of historical Norfolk and Virginia Beach photographs on April 16 at the Willoughby-Baylor House. The exhibit will run through next April.

The photographs are all from city and landscape photographer Harry Cowles Mann.

Between 1907 and 1924, Mann chronicled the changing face of Norfolk by documenting the building boom of new skyscrapers in the city, and artistic landscape photos of surrounding areas that experiment with shadows and light.

Harry Cowles Mann (American, b. Norfolk, 1866—1926)View of Mowbray Arch Albumen print, ca. 1910 Gift of Ernestine A. Cary

The exhibition was curated by Brock Curator of American Art Alex Mann (no relation), who first explored the Museum’s collection of Harry Mann photos in 2014 while reorganizing displays for the Historic Houses on Freemason Street. Working with an intern from Virginia Wesleyan College, senior Stephanie Deach, Mann selected the 50 finest images from the collection. Deach discovered Mann’s history of publication with National Geographic magazine, and thanks to her research, the exhibition includes several vintage issues, showing the photographer was reaching a global audience.

Photo by Kathleen B. Casey Stephanie Deach, left, Virginian Wesleyan College Public History Intern and Alex Mann, Brock Curator of American Art, review photos for the Harry Cowles Mann exhibition.

Mann deserves recognition as an aesthetic pioneer alongside contemporaries like Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand and Edward Weston, says Alex Mann. “By presenting Mann’s commercial and artistic photographs together, the Chrysler breaks new ground in our understanding of this photographer,” Alex Mann said. “Mann built a valuable architectural archive of Norfolk during a period of rapid change. Meanwhile, his beachscapes reveal a personal quest for aesthetic complexity and prove that every corner of our region has worthy pictorial subjects.”

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