Typically, visitors to MoMA’s galleries are asked not to touch the photographs, but these three sets of stereographs made in the early 20th century are an exception. Viewers are invited to look through a stereoscope (this one designed by Colleen Woolpert) to reveal a 3-D image. The process, vastly popular from the mid-1850s into the 20th century, is made with a dual-lens camera that captures slightly different right and left images. When viewed through the stereoscope the pictures appear to combine to create a 3-D perspective.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, author and inventor of a handheld stereoscope, said of stereographs, “Looking at a good photograph through the stereoscope is a surprise such as no painting ever produced. The mind feels its way into the very depths of the picture....”

Submitted by Tania Toro, Assistant Manager, Merchandise Planning, Retail Finance and Operations