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Among the Wonders of the Dells: Photography, Place, Tourism 

Extended through September 15, 2019 Past Exhibitions
Image for Mark Brautigam, Mt.Olympus, Digital photograph, 2018Mark Brautigam, Mt. Olympus, Digital photograph, 2018

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From remote natural wonder to “Waterpark Capital of the World,” Wisconsin Dells has reigned supreme as the state’s premier tourist destination for nearly 160 years. Among the Wonders of the Dells presents more than 100 photographs from eight artists recounting the fascinating history and transformation of Wisconsin Dells.

Among the Wonders of the Dells
features photographs by Leroy J. Gates, the first photographer of the Dells, H. H. Bennett, the great nineteenth-century photographer touted as “the man who made the Wisconsin Dells famous,” H. H. Bennett Studio, John A. Trumble, who documented the Dells’ postwar tourist boom in the twentieth century, Dennis Darmek, and three contemporary Wisconsin photographers commissioned by MOWA to spend a year photographing the Dells from their unique perspectives: Mark Brautigam, Tom Jones, and Kevin J. Miyazaki.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue where the photographs are contextualized in essays by celebrated Wisconsin historian John Gurda and MOWA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art J Tyler Friedman. The uniqueness of the Dells encompasses a range of themes to be discussed in the essays: shifts in leisure practices and family vacations since the nineteenth century, the uneasy assimilation of the Ho-Chunk tribe with early settlers and contemporary tourists, and the Dells’ as a subject of both commercial and artistic photography.

The exhibition is comprised of new and never-before-seen photographs. The catalog essays also reflect new archival research undertaken at the Wisconsin Historical Society and in the records of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau.

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