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H. H. Bennett Studio and Museum


Walking along Broadway Street in Wisconsin Dells, I came to my destination, the iconic H.H. Bennett Studio.

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Bennett was an innovative photographer whose images of the Dells brought tourists to the location to view the area's beauty. The area quickly became a destination for sightseers eager to leave behind the bustle of the city. Bennett capitalized on this, building a studio in 1875.

He sold postcards and souvenir portraits to travelers. In the meantime, he continued to innovate in the field of photography by inventing a stop-action shutter, allowing him to take photographs of instantaneous events. Previously, it took several minutes for a camera to take a picture, and any movement of the subject being photographed over this time caused the image to become blurry.

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After Bennett created the new shutter, he could take clear pictures of moving subjects. The best-known photograph taken by Bennett with this device was an 1886 image of his son Ashley jumping between two rock formations in the Dells.

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This historic space showcases Bennett's original photographs, glass plate negative equipment, photography inventions, cameras, and equipment. The studio is the oldest operating business in the Wisconsin Dells and is believed to be the oldest continuously operating photography studio in the country.

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I walked past exhibits exploring Bennett's life, the people of the Ho-Chunk Nation who Bennett photographed, and Dells' tourism history.

After touring the museum and studio, I went to the second-floor gallery featuring Bennett's uncle George Houghton's collection of Civil War photos offering glimpses into soldier's camp life between the winter of 1861 and the spring of 1863.

The Wisconsin Historical Society site is, in my opinion, a must-see in this tourist city. It is interesting and an important history lesson for all visitors.


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