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Special Exhibition – “War on Our Doorsteps”

July 5, 2018 @ 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

When Alexander Gardner’s stunning photographs of the Antietam battlefield were publicly displayed in 1862, they changed how Americans saw war forever. For a limited time, you can relive that sobering exhibition at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office.

A photograph captured in the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam by Alexander Gardner. (LOC)

“Bringing the War to Our Doorsteps” is a temporary installation restaging the exhibition of Alexander Gardner’s photographs taken at Antietam in September 1862. It is a rare chance for visitors to experience what viewers did more than 155 years ago as the Civil War raged.

Display prints have been made to the same dimensions and style of the originals from high-definition digital files made available by the Library of Congress. To enhance the visitor’s experience, there will be a 3-D theatre to view the photos, which were shot with stereoscopic cameras, in the way they were originally intended. Its purpose is to explore the evolving view of war-time photography from the Civil War to today and how modern media has contributed to American attitudes about armed conflict. The exhibition has been extended through November 3, 2018.

It is staged throughout the Missing Soldiers Office Museum, a space where Clara Barton lived and worked during the Civil War era. From her boardinghouse, she founded the Missing Soldiers Office and assisted thousands of grieving families in the search for their missing loved ones at the conclusion of our nation’s bloodiest conflict.

“It is not [for viewers] to bear witness to the fidelity of views which the truthful sunbeam has delineated in all their dread reality,” wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. after viewing the original exhibition in New York City in 1862. “The sight of these pictures is a commentary on civilization such as the savage might well triumph to show its missionaries.”

Visiting the exhibition is included with admission to the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum and is free for Museum members. The exhibition will be on display until November 3, 2018 and will be available during normal operating hours (11:00am – 5:00pm, Thurs-Sat) and by appointment. Contact Director of Programming Katie Reichard for more information about appointments and group visits: or 301-695-1864.

In addition to the exhibition’s extension, the creator of “Bringing the War to Our Doorsteps,” Bob Kozak, will be speaking about the photographs at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office on October 4. It is an exploration of how American society portrayed death at the start of the Civil War, how these photos were received in 1862, and how the coverage of war has evolved since the publication of Gardner’s images into the present day.

For more information about the exhibition, contact Jake Wynn at


Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum
437 7th Street NW
Washington, 20004 United States
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