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Historical photography exhibit opens tonight in East Islip

Photographs may be one of the most intimate passports to historical eras, providing rare glimpses at the way people lived and socialized.

“Islip Through the Eye of His Lens: The Edgar Van Sicklen Photography Collection Circa 1900-1915” is no exception. The photography exhibit, which opens tonight at The Brookwood Hall Mansion in East Islip and runs through April, features the work of Edgar Van Sicklen – a photographer who lived in Islip at the turn of the 20th century.

“He had a lot of warmth to his photography – a Norman Rockwell perspective,” said Victoria Berger, curator of the exhibit and president of the Historical Society of Islip Hamlet.

Van Sicklen captured every day life, including people at work, children playing in the street and parades. Some photographs depict the local fire department using horse-drawn fire wagons and wooden ladders, as well as the local community ice skating on a compressed dirt road after a snow fall in 1917.

The exhibit will feature 80 photographs – a portion of the donation to the Historical Society of Islip Hamlet by the Van Sicklen family. Both black and white photographs as well as color photographs are featured.

“Photography at that time was only black and white, but his wife would hand watercolor them,” Berger said. “They would sell them in a booth on our Main Street as hangable works of art.”

So what will people take away from the exhibit?

“The warm feelings of nostalgia that these pictures bring to mind and the contrast to life today,” Berger said. “Especially since we have so many people dealing with economic struggles, I think people could relate to those times when people worked manual labor and times were tough.”

WHEN/WHERE Opening night wine and cheese reception attended by members of the Van Sicklen family tonight, 6-8 p.m. at The Brookwood Hall Mansion Historic Exhibit Room, 50 Irish Lane in East Islip. Exhibit runs through April 29. Hours are: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday and 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sundays.


INFO 631-245-0675 or