Nevada Historical Society showcases longtime photography curator Lee Brumbaugh |

Nevada Historical Society showcases longtime photography curator Lee Brumbaugh

Guy Clifton | Travel Nevada
The photography of the late Lee Brumbaugh, longtime curator of photography at the Nevada Historical Society, will be on exhibit through February.
Nevada Historical Society

The Nevada Historical Society is honoring its late longtime photo curator, Lee Brumbaugh, in the best way it can – with a retrospective of his work.

Brumbaugh was the curator of photography at the Nevada Historical Society from 1996 to 2018. He died in 2019. The exhibition will be in place through February.

“A Retrospective: Nevada Behind the Lens,” will showcase select framed images from four of Brumbaugh’s completed exhibitions; highlighting Nevada’s beauty, natural and altered. The exhibition will also display select personal items that show his passion for turquoise and photography.

The son of painter who chaired the art department at Coker College in South Carolina, the soft-spoken Brumbaugh developed his passion for fine-art photography while a student at Hartsville High School, where he graduated in 1967.

In his early college years, he discovered Paul Strand’s “Time in New England” and the works of Walker Evans, both of which shaped the way Brumbaugh viewed the world behind the lens. Both Strand and Evans would have strong influences on Brumbaugh’s photographic style throughout his career.

Brumbaugh initially majored in archeology, a passion he maintained throughout his life. He loved rock hunting in Nevada and everywhere in the West. He was proud to show what minerals he discovered or purchased at mineral shows with docents, staff and visitors at the Historical Society.

He went on to earn a Master’s of Fine Art in Photography at Washington State University and left immediately from there to enter the graduate program in anthropology at Tulane University in New Orleans. He was drawn to the city cemeteries and abandoned shipyards, which served as his subject matter and inspiration.

At the University of California at Berkeley, Brumbaugh received his Ph.D. in anthropology and folklore. A Renaissance man, he was a wealth of information. His formal education was the prism through which he saw and experienced life. You can see the influence of his studies in anthropology and photography in his “Time in Nevada,” “Time in America,” “End Times” and “Burning Man” series which are housed at the Nevada Historical Society. But it was the darker side of life that really sparked Brumbaugh’s imagination and what he wanted to capture on film and transform into art, be it the Hunting Island bone yard, Oakland fires, Los Angeles earthquake, or Hurricane Katrina.

The exhibition can be viewed during regular Nevada Historical Society hours, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults, free for children 17 and younger and Nevada Historical Society Members.

A reception showcasing the Brumbaugh exhibit will be held Jan. 17 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. It is free to the public and Nevada Historical Society members.