By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN With technology moving at a rapid pace, cameras have evolved throughout the years to where film and Polaroid cameras have become a thing of the past.
“So Won’t You Smile For the Camera,” a new temporary exhibit at the Cokato Museum, offers a glimpse of the evolution of cameras, with more than 75 unique and distinct cameras from the museum’s collection.
In the last five years, the museum has received a large number of donated cameras as more and more people move on to digital cameras. “We’re willing to take them,” said Cokato Museum Director Mike Worcester.
The oldest camera in the collection was brought over from the Gust Akerlund Studio. This portable Eastman Kodak No. 2D camera is from the late 19th century and likely the camera that was used when Akerlund bought the studio. Worcester estimates it’s between 110 and 120 years old.
Also on display are the standard roll film cameras, such as the Kodak Instamatic 35 millimeter camera.
Polaroid and video cameras are also on display, as well as the museum’s first digital camera.
In addition to the cameras, the exhibit also features old newspaper advertisements showing particular cameras and pricing.
“That is always fascinating seeing what people would spend for a good camera,” Worcester said.
The museum could not neglect to give recognition to the photographers that set up shop in town, such as Dave and Norma Ramstad and Dwight Barnes.
With photography being a tough profession, the average length of business in town was 10 years or less, Worcester explained, with the exception of Akerlund, who had a successful photography studio for four decades.
To give the exhibit an interactive element, Cokato Museum Assistant Johanna Ellison created a collage of 120 years worth of pictures from the museum’s collection. The collage also spells out the word Cokato.
Visitors are welcome to sit on a chair from the Gust Akerlund Studio, and take their picture with the collage as their background.
The exhibit officially opens Thursday, July 5, and continues through the end of October.