The Johnson family has long held a meaningful connection to the Keystone View Company and to stereography. Lance and Eric Johnson tell of their grandfather Charles, a Swedish immigrant, who began a 43-year career at Keystone View Company four years after it was founded in 1892. Their father Harold, who was Charles Johnson’s son worked at Keystone for 53 years before he retired in 1976. Their mother Isabel worked at Keystone as a commercial artist and met her future husband, Harold, there. The Johnsons have maintained and expanded a personal collection of Keystone products and memorabilia as well as that of other stereographic companies and related materials.
To speak with Lance and Eric Johnson of Keystone and stereography is to glimpse both the charm and fascination of a photographic medium that captured the avid interest of Queen Victoria and Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the technological innovations which grew from a parlor pastime.
As in today’s photographic journalism and entertainment, stereographic styles and subject matter ran the gamut. Photographers snapped innumerable subjects, grand events, historical moments, landscapes and portraits.
They memorialized on film the famous and the common. Some photographers considered themselves picture-takers while others were, indeed, artists with a vision that created true and lasting images.
Architecture, natural disaster, and daily scenes of the common person’s life are often depicted. Views of countless cities of the world can be seen both at war and peace. From the humorous to the tragic to the mundane, stereography has left its indelible mark on history.
The Johnson-Shaw Stereoscopic Museum will be a lasting tribute and home for the industry of stereography, with the primary focus on the collection of the Keystone View Company. The museum will display elements of the manufacturing process, the history and the artistry of stereography. It will eventually include a research library, and play a marked role in providing new and previously undiscovered information to stereography enthusiasts and researchers.
While visiting the museum, groups and individuals will enjoy a vast collection of stereoviews, stereoscopic equipment and documents in a hands-on environment. Many will have the opportunity to view photos of family and friends, landscape and architecture world-wide, and historical events.