SAHARA Highlights: The Color Film Emergency Project: Gerald Moorhead

by Jacqueline Spafford and Mark Hinchman, SAHARA Co-Editors | Jun 13, 2022
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The Color Film Emergency Project (CFEP) was initiated in 2013 to help identify at-risk 35mm slide collections photographed by SAH members. Many of these important collections have been in danger of exposure to moisture, dust, and other harmful factors; others are simply threatened with homelessness. In 2020, SAH, in partnership with the University of California, Riverside and Santa Barbara campuses, received an NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources foundation grant focused on addressing these issues. In these two years the grant directors (Sonja Sekely-Rowland and Jackie Spafford) have worked with sample subsets of SAH member collections that represent the spectrum of issues facing their preservation. They have devised a consortium model to handle the processing in stages, working with partner institutions all over the U.S., and are now applying for an NEH Implementation grant to expand the project.

One of the subjects of this pilot phase was Gerald Moorhead, a Texas-based architect and author, known for his excellent photography and far-flung travels. He was the editor for both BUS Buildings of Texas volumes, among many other contributions. He became a unique CFEP partner as he opted to digitize selections of his slides himself, which were then catalogued by grant fellows at UCSB and published to SAHARA. Below is a sample of the nearly 2,000 images from his collection contributed thus far.

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All photography by Gerald Moorhead: 

outdoor sign reads

Outdoor Café, Neutral Ground, American Sector, (West) Berlin, Germany, 1982. Moorhead extensively photographed Cold War Berlin. Photograph: 1982.

empty concrete fountain leading to massive building

Alexander Barov, The National Palace of Culture, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1978–81. The Palace opened in 1981 in celebration of Bulgaria’s 1300th anniversary. View of front palace with dry fountains. Photograph: 1992.

view of whitewashed vaulted room lined with clay pots

Underground dwelling, Matmata, Tunisia, 1500–present. View of whitewashed vaulted room lined with clay pots. There are approximately 700 underground structures in this Berber town in southern Tunisia. Photograph: 1990.

public square surrounded by three madrasas

Registan, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 1417–1660. The public square was surrounded by three madrasas: the Ulugh Beg Madrasa (1417–20), Sher-Dor Madrasa (1619–36), and Tilya-Kori Madrasa (1646–60). Photograph: 1992.

L-shaped main building and exterior walls enclose a courtyard

Alvar Aalto, Muuratsalo Experimental House, Lake Päijänne, Finland, 1952–54. Built as the summer home of Aalvar and Elissa Aalto, the L-shaped main building and exterior walls enclose a courtyard with varied surface treatments. Photograph: 1981.

stone temples

Capitolium Temple, Sbeitla, Tunisia, c. 130–170. The Capitolium consists of three linked tetra style temples, dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Photograph: 1990.

living room with seating areas

Richard Neutra, Alfred de Schulthess residence, Cubanacan neighbourhood in Havana, Cuba, 1954–56.  View of living room. Built for a Swiss family, it is now the Swiss ambassador’s residence. Photograph: 2002.

snow-covered plaza surrounded by curvlinear building with arched entrance

Karl Rossi, General Staff Building, Palace Square, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1819–1829. Now home to the Hermitage art collection. Photograph: 1985.

cylindrical concrete walls

Louis Kahn, National Assembly Building, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1962–82. Detail view of cylindrical concrete exterior walls. Photograph: 2012.

library interior with reference desk and bookshelves

Aalto, Alvar, Viipuri City Library, Vyborg, Russia, 1927–35. Main reference desk. Vyborg Library was built during the time of Finnish sovereignty (1918 to 1940–44), before the Finnish city of Viipuri was annexed by the former USSR and its name changed to Vyborg by the Soviet authorities. Photograph: 1985.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
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