John Brown Returns to the Midwest

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art recently acquired a rare daguerreotype of abolitionist John Brown. A daguerreotype is one of the earliest forms of photography and created a one-of-a-kind image. And this portrait is one of only six known daguerreotypes of the anti-slavery militant who's still somewhat of a controversial figure. Some view John Brown as a religious fanatic; others say he was a freedom fighter.

Kansas City, MO – The photograph was taken by Augustus Washington - one of the few African-American daguerreotypists at the time (1846 or 1847) - more than a decade before Brown's ill-fated raid on an arsenal in Harper's Ferry, Virginia that he hoped would spark an anti-slavery rebellion.

KCUR's Laura Spencer met Assistant Curator Jane Aspinwall in the photography galleries at the Bloch Building to talk about the importance of the work and the process of creating a daguerreotype, the earliest form of photography.