About Our Camera Museum


Camera Heritage Museum

The Camera Heritage Museum was created to display and preserve a collection of over 6,000 cameras as well as accessories and photos. The majority of cameras are antique cameras. The museum's mission is to share with the public a glimpse into the fascinating story of photography. In this small town in western central Virginia you can see some of the most technologically advanced instruments of their times along with photos spanning over 150 years. These photographs are examples of the output of some of the cameras in the collection. You get a better feel of the era and the photographers when you see these photographs. There are stories behind many of these cameras which are worth your time even if you are not a camera buff. From stories about local photographers whose work is nationally known to the events that they captured for future generations, there is something here for everyone to enjoy.

The camera museum is housed in what was known for 70 years as the Camera and Palette Inc. at 1 W Beverley St. Staunton, VA. Tucked into this location the Museum is open to the public during regular store hours.

The David Schwartz Collection

David Schwartz began collecting in 1968. His enthusiasm for photography was the driving force behind what is now a very significant collection spanning the history of photography. His cameras came from many different sources, but they were all gathered with an understanding of how important they were to the history of photography. Unfortunately he could not preserve and display his collection forever. The collection needed a way to carry on through time and stay open to the public. Now the Camera Heritage Museum is taking over the responsabilty of showing his collection with a plan to expand the collection and improve its display.

The A. Lewis Bernard Vintage Camera Collection

Through the generous cooperation of the staff of the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette: Mark Tullos, Director: Lee Gray, Curator and Jaymie Lafleur, Registrar: the Camera Heritage Museum was able to acquire the A. Lewis Bernard Vintage Camera Collection of over 900 cameras, accessories and images on January 10, 2012. We are extremely pleased with this collection and hope to have it included in our displays soon. We also would like to thank Wilson Trucking of Fishersville, Va for volunteering their services in making the transfer to Va possible.

The Jim McLeod Brownie Collection

Jim McLeod started his photography hobby as the high school photographer in Grandview, Missouri where he took pictures for the local newspaper and school yearbooks. He started collecting Kodak Brownie Cameras in 1995 while on an antique trip with his wife as something to do.  He found a book that said there had been some 60 different Kodak Brownie’s built and decided he could collect all of those.  During his collecting, he was able to identify approximately 700 different models and collected at least one of every type, which amounted to over 400 different cameras manufactured in 7 different countries, including several rare ones built in Germany during WWII before the US got involved. His collection even grew larger than Kodak’s collection. While collecting Brownies, he also acquired over 1000 pieces of Kodak Memorabilia, which were added to the collection given to the Museum. He became a member of an international Brownie Club and wrote articles for their magazine, and his collection is probably considered in the top 10 Kodak Brownie Collections in the world.

The Robert Dickler and Sue Baskin Dickler Collection

Bob and Sue have given most of there collection to our museum 2013. The over 400 cameras span the last 125 years of photography.

The George & Shirley Carvalho Collection

George's collection of about 1000 cameras came from Alameda, CA. Thanks to our web site he saw a great home for his large collection.

An Overview of Our Collection

For the last 150 years technology has been advanced by people all over the world who saw that they could use their creativity and hard work to prosper. This was the industrial age. This was also the age of cameras and photography. A quick look at the many camera manufacturers reveals the creative efforts that went into their cameras. You will also see the rise and fall of industrial giants like Eastman Kodak from its startup as a single man's dream to its place as one of the most well known names on the New York stock exchange. Cameras were very much an integral part of this industrial age.

Cameras were not just the domain of camera companies. You will see a disc camera developed by the American Safety Razor Company and an amazingly complex miniature camera the size of a pack of playing cards built by a Swiss watch company (Le Coultre). Many cameras were developed by optical companies that were searching for more uses for their optical expertise. Zeiss Ikon designed a monocular that acted like a spotting scope by itself but when screwed into the end of a standard 50mm lens it became a 400mm lens. We have an example of 19th century instant photography, a tin type camera which carried its developing equipment and chemicals on board the camera so that the photgrapher could develop his photos on the street. Its name, the Street Camera.

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We have an extensive collection of the German cameras, Leica and Zeiss, in the camera museum. We have examples of George Eastman's first box cameras all the way up to Kodak digital point and shoots. You will see many miniature and "spy" cameras. One looks like a man's silver pocket watch but the winding knob is actually a lens cap. And where do you think the makers of the James Bond thrillers got the Minox camera that Bond used? Yes, the David Schwartz Collection.

The Camera heritage Museum showcases many photographers who have lived in the area. The first photographer in the area practiced his art in 1847, just 9 years after the beginning of photography in Paris. The son of one of our local photographers became the White House photographer for presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson; see Barnett Clinedinst. We also showcase Washington Star, LA Times, U.S. Senate, Official White House and President Ronald Reagan's personal photographer, Bernie Boston.

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All in all we have many reasons to visit. Come to Staunton and see.