The Triumph of Helios:
Photographic Treasures of the California State Library at California State University at Sacramento

The California State Library’s priceless treasures, like its photographs of 19th century California landscapes and people, normally stay in the high security vault in the California State Library’s California History section.  Chief among these protected artifacts is the pioneer photography of legendary photographers like Eadweard J. Muybidge, the first man to photograph Yosemite .

Through June 24, thanks to the cooperative efforts of the California State Library (CSL), California State University of Sacramento (CSUS), and the California State Library Foundation, visitors can see the state’s earliest photography in Triumph of Helios: Photographic Treasures of the California State Library at University Library Gallery at California State University of Sacramento (CSUS).

As the Triumph of Helios showcases historic California’s images, it presents, according to CSL Curator of Special Collections Gary Kurutz, items that are “significant in the history of California photography.”  Triumph of Helios “pays homage to the photographers themselves” by presenting “a liberal sprinkling” from the CSL’s major single collections of photographers Carleton E. Watkins, Eadweard J. Muybridge, and other masters.

Because early photographic era works rarely survive, the saved treasures in Triumph of Helios offer, Kurutz writes in the exhibit catalogue, “a unique glimpse into the lives and working conditions of those men and women who did so much to preserve our historical memory.” Visitors to the CSUS Library can “inspect up close a Gold Rush daguerreotype, or to peer through a stereoscope to see magically Yosemite Valley’s Glacier Point in three-dimension” and consider “the difficulty of making a daguerreotype in the hot but gold-rich ravines of Placer County or the challenge of coating a 24 x 28 inch sheet of glass with light-sensitive chemicals while standing 3,000 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley.”

Triumph of Helios offers a variety of media including silvery daguerreotypes, brown-toned ambrotypes, pannotypes, tintypes, albumen mammoth plate prints, stereographs, blue-toned cyanotypes, autochromes, and silvertones. The show displays prints made from wet and dry-plate negatives, flexible film negatives of all types, and elegantly framed glass positives. It also includes more obscure forms of photography such as the autochrome, orotone, glass positive, and even a wedding certificate adorned with actual tintypes.

Triumph of Helios: Photographic Treasures of the California State Library is open to the public through June 24, 2006 at University Library Gallery at CSUS.

For more information contact Gary Kurutz at (916) 653-0101 or email  




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