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Past Meets Present: An Exhibit of Composite Photographs

Given the popularity of social media sites like facebook and Twitter, it’s not surprising that the inspiration for the Newport Historical Society’s latest exhibit stemmed from a doctored photograph that “went viral.”

“In early April, photographer Lew Keen, one of our supporters, emailed us an image that unites a late 19th century view of Thames Street with a modern view from the same perspective,” Executive Director Ruth Taylor explains. “We posted this on facebook and within just a few hours received an overwhelmingly positive response.”

Given the dozens of shares and “likes” the image received, the Newport Historical Society has partnered with Keen to present an exhibit of photographs based upon this theme. Using historic photographs from the NHS collections, merged with modern photographs captured through Lew’s skills, the exhibit Past Meets Present: An Exhibit of Composite Photographs, will debut during the Fourth of July festivities at the 1739 Colony House on Washington Square.

“As a long time historic preservationist and a recent photographer, I was excited to create images that promote appreciation of Newport’s historic streetscapes,” Keen describes. “This project places historic images of Newport in the context with what visitors experience today. Past Meets Present enhances the appreciation of Newport’s built environment through the imagery of what has been lost intertwined with what currently exists. Placing images from the past and present in the same frame helps viewers easily identify the locations. Additionally seeing what has been lost in context with what still stands suggests that our role as caretakers of these remarkable treasures has not been without some losses—and encourages us to do better for the future.”

Past Meets Present is open during the Colony House site tour. Offered daily 11am-3pm, admission costs $8 per person and is free for NHS members. For details call the Brick Market: Museum & Shop at 401-841-8770 or visit NewportHistory.org. The exhibit runs through February 2015.

“Given that this year marks Newport’s 375th anniversary, Past Meets Present is an ideal way to reflect upon Newport’s remarkable history,” Taylor concludes.