Panoramas of the Moving Image: Mechanical Slides and Dissolving Views from Nineteenth-Century Magic Lantern Shows

Sep 12, 2007–Mar 10, 2008


Ernie Gehr. Panoramas of the Moving Image: Mechanical Slides and Dissolving Views from Nineteenth-Century Magic Lantern Shows. 2006. Video. Purchase from Ernie Gehr
  • MoMA, Floor T1, Theater 1 Gallery Theater 1 Gallery
  • MoMA, Floor T2, Theater 2 Gallery Theater 2 Gallery

Painted or printed images on glass were among the earliest forms of projected “motion picture” entertainment. Mechanical glass slides were manipulated to simulate various kinds of change in the image, and multiple projectors allowed for superimposed and dissolving views. Brightly colored, handcrafted slides, depicting human activity, fantasy figures, and landscapes, were typically presented with live narration, music, and sound effects, in what became popular by the 1870s as Magic Lantern shows. Experimental media artist Ernie Gehr’s Panoramas of the Moving Image (2005) is a synchronized five-channel video installation that uses eighty-seven original slides and views selected from Gehr’s personal collection and that of renowned pre-cinema collector David Francis. Projected side by side, the slides create a mesmerizing wide-screen spectacle. A selection of vintage paper Zoetrope strips and Phenakistiscope discs—complementary artifacts of nineteenth-century moving-image technology—are also on display.

Organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, and Ron Magliozzi, Assistant Curator, Research and Collections.


  • Press release 6 pages


Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].