Monday, August 26, 2013

Exhibition Opens: "Sacred to the Memory"

Photographic Exhibition:

Sacred to the Memory - 
the Historic Cemeteries of Philadelphia

Sept. 9 - Nov. 1, 2013
Free Library of Philadelphia
Parkway Central Library
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189

Artists: Frank Rausch, Robert Reinhardt, Ed Snyder
(Image above from Laurel Hill Cemetery, by Frank Rausch)

Opening Reception Sept. 16, 6 - 8 pm

The Historic Cemeteries of Philadelphia - Laurel Hill, Woodlands, and Mount Moriah 

Ed Snyder
 "Sacred to the Memory" is an historic exhibition that catches three historic cemeteries of Philadelphia at a moment in time - 2013, over a hundred and fifty years after they were originally established. Frank Rausch, Robert Reinhardt, and Ed Snyder are local photographers who share a passion for documenting these historic and beautiful sites. Their goal was to provide a clear picture into how each artist sees these individual memory gardens - Laurel Hill Cemetery, Woodlands Cemetery, and Mount Moriah Cemetery. Each site has its own personality and architectural features.  Each photographer has his own unique style. Together all three artists provide a complete visual diary of their visits and adventures in these Victorian sculpture gardens.

Book and eBook available from
A book was created to accompany the exhibition at Philadelphia's Main Public Library, and is available from (click here to see it in hardback, paperback, and eBook forms). Also, a poster (shown below) is being made available for a limited time. Autographed copies of the poster and book will be offered for sale during the Opening Reception. 

Exhibition Poster
A portion of the proceeds from poster sales made during the exhibition will be donated to the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. for direct care of the grounds. (This is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Mount Moriah Cemetery by honoring the memory of those interred in her folds through restoration, historic research, education and community engagement). The poster can be purchased by contacting Ed Snyder, Chairman of Communications and Technology for the Friends at

Laurel Hill Lion (Snyder)
The photographs in this exhibition express the passion each of the artists has for documenting these three Victorian-era cemeteries. Whether the inspiration stems from an interest in the past, a spiritual journey, or just the desire to create strong visual images, each photograph brings to the surface the beauty of these eternal resting places. Garden cemeteries were the bucolic getaways for city people in the 1800s, they were the first public parks - landscaped sculpture gardens where people picnicked and strolled long before public parks and museums came into being.

Frank Rausch
“[We have] been able to create images that bring awareness to the beauty and fragility of our cherished resting places as well as showing the necessity to restore and preserve these exquisite places for future generations to enjoy." - Photographer Frank Rausch

Mount Moriah Cemetery Gatehouse (Snyder)
Some of these images capture the delicate partnership these graveyards have co-existing with nature. Others document the skilled craftsmanship of the artists and architects who created and constructed them. Yet others explore and hint at the myth and mystery that surrounds the persona of each of these silent and reflective sites. Whichever explanation you choose, the photographs seek to celebrate the significance of these graveyards. These images not only document our history, culture, and artistic trends of the past, they also hold the eternal silent voices of the past and once again bring to life the markers erected in their honor.

Robert Reinhardt
“Each site possesses a unique slice of history, culture, religion, art, and architecture of the time period in which it was created. These images attempt to bring to life a strength that lives on in these eternal monuments.” - Photographer Robert Reinhardt

The artists will host an Opening Reception at the Library on September 16, 2013 (6 – 8 pm). The exhibit hall is on the first floor of the Philadelphia Central Library, off the main lobby. This extensive exhibit will include nearly sixty images as well as display cases of artifacts created by each of the three historic cemeteries. Representatives from Laurel Hill, Woodlands, and Mount Moriah cemeteries will also be in attendance. The exhibition will run from September 9 to November 1, 2013. 

Woodlands reflection (Reinhardt)
You see here among these words a few images that will be on display. We invite you to see the exhibit in person, if possible. And by all means, please visit these landmarks of architectural and botanical beauty, these memory gardens of great historical significance. If you live in Philadelphia, you owe it to yourself to add these sites to your “must see” list along with the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Cemeteries speak to us on many different levels – the intent of this exhibit is to preserve the memories and voices of the past so they can be handed down for the appreciation of others in the future.

Perhaps this is best described by Gwen Kaminski, Laurel Hill’s Director of Development and Programs, in the following passage which is excerpted from the book, "Sacred to the Memory" - The Historic Cemeteries of Philadelphia:

Laurel Hill blanketed in snow (Rausch)
"Laurel Hill Cemetery appeals to the senses. Walking through her gates, one steps into nineteenth century Philadelphia. Surrounded by a symphony of nature and noise; immersed in a thick forest of white marble; looking down on the river – the city of the living just below – one gains a new perspective on the world, and on our place within it. This place – our place – is ever changing. It shifts with the shades and shadows cast by each morn, noon and night. We see the shifts, though our finite gaze cannot yet pierce them. 

Laurel Hill Mausoleum lock (Rausch)
Yes, here at Laurel Hill, our senses are charmed. Our sight is heightened; our observations profound. Since her founding in 1836 – eighteen decades past, and too many comings and goings to count – Laurel Hill has been immortalized in art. Displays of greens and grays have given way to the whitest of winters. Branches bare are clothed again in the blooming buds of springtime. The landscape is refreshed by roaring rains, and takes on new shapes with each setting of the sun. So many names and numbers give testament, chiseled into stones not quite as heavy as the words that they bear – each one fighting the toll of time on memory, on mortality.

Fleeting glances of all this and more have become permanent visions in oil, charcoal, clay, graphite, marble, watercolor, celluloid, and now pixels. These photographs are a collection of moments memorialized. What you see herein of Laurel Hill Cemetery you shall not see again beyond these printed pages. The view through the lens has already shifted. Our eyes have grown another day older – our gaze another day closer to piercing the shifts."

Further Reading and Reference:
The artists encourage you to visit these cemeteries, as well as their websites:
Historic Laurel Hill Cemetery (established 1836)
The Woodlands Cemetery (established 1840)
Mount Moriah Cemetery (established 1855)