Photo: Spectators viewing a dead sperm whale washed ashore on Wrightsville Beach, New Hanover County, 1928.

Why look at old photographs? To learn about the past? To find parallels with the present? The introduction of photography in the mid-1800s forever changed the way we record and remember our individual lives—and our history. Examine dozens of photographs from the museum collection, then decide for yourself: Do our modern eyes see something different than the original viewers would have? And what can we learn by approaching photos as windows into the past?

Look Again: Discovering Historical Photos employs large-scale reprints of photographs from the museum’s collection. Divided into four thematic sections—Telling Stories, Taking a Closer Look, Remembering Faces, and Capturing Moments—the exhibit focuses on stories and interesting details associated with each individual photo.

The exhibit also contains a small case that features examples of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes—as well as more recent images—to show the evolution of photography over time.