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What to expect when the world’s first Polaroid Museum opens in Las Vegas next month

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The Polaroid Land Camera Model 95

When Edwin Land’s Polaroid camera hit the market in 1948, its “instant” photos—on chemical film that would develop in 60 seconds—gave immediacy to the experience of capturing memories. Soon artists were experimenting with the new camera, developed by a scientist who began his career by inventing inexpensive filters for polarizing light.

Ansel Adams, David Hockney, Chuck Close, Robert Mapplethorpe and William Wegmen are among many who used Polaroid. It makes sense then that when the Polaroid Museum, the first of its kind, opens next month at the Linq, in conjunction with Polaroid’s Fotobar, it will do so with an Andy Warhol exhibit.

Titled Capturing Celebrity and presented by the Andy Warhol Museum, the exhibit will feature 50 images, along with two Polaroid cameras used by Warhol. But that’s just part of the 4,500-square-foot museum planned for the store’s second level. Four other artist exhibits are to be announced this month, and social media exhibits tying together past and present technology, will also be on display.

Andy Warhol was one of many artists who used Polaroid cameras.

Additionally, visitors will get a look at the company’s and the inventor’s artifacts and various products through the years. This includes one of Polaroid’s famous five 20x24 large format cameras, plus art and advertising from the Polaroid historical collection at
 MIT.

The Weekly spoke with Dov Quint, VP of business development for Polaroid Fotobar, which offers instant printing of digital media, frames and other products.

This is the first Fotobar outside of Florida. Why Las Vegas? The idea with Vegas is that there are probably more photos taken in Las Vegas than anywhere in the U.S.

Is there still interest in printing images? In 2013 there were more photos taken than in the entire history of the world combined. People are taking more photos than ever, but nobody prints. When we ask people why, we get a whole list of reasons why they don’t. A lot of them say they don’t know how.

Why the museum? We’re obsessed with the history of the company. It’s a rich, 75-year-old
 history of technological innovation. Artists have exhibited in the medium, but there has never been a space dedicated to telling the story of the company and to the artifacts.

Who is curating? Mary-Kay Lombino at Vassar is our in-house curator.

What’s the history with the 20x24? It’s one of five cameras that came about when Edwin Land said, “I want to show off the capabilities of our larger-format camera for our shareholders.”

How large is it? It’s taller than me, and I’m 6-1.

Edwin Land

Will there be images displayed with it? Yes. And there are great names that come through Las Vegas, so we’ll be building our own. The common theme in the museum is celebrity and pop culture.

What else can we expect? We’ll be featuring prototype cameras, 
3D goggles, polarizers, advertising artifacts, Edwin Land’s 
chair. We’re going to have a display of fun and rare Polaroid cameras, a gold SX-70, a Lego brand camera, a rare McDonald’s camera. We’ll have Styrofoam and wooden prototypes.

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Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson joined the Las Vegas Sun in 1998 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, she turned her focus ...

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