Born in Kingston, Eadweard Muybridge was one of the most influential photographers and inventors of all time.
In 2019, Kingston Museum, In Kingston and Kingston First worked in collaboration to produce an exhibition about the life of Muybridge and the Muybridge Festival, a week dedicated to celebrating the life and works of one of the town's most famous residents.
Click here to find out about the Year or Muybridge in 2020 on the Kingston Heritage website.
Kingston Museum held its third Muybridge Week Festival in May 2019.
Muybridge Week celebrates the life and works of the Kingston-born photographer.
Muybridge was born in Kingston in 1830, a period in time when people were just beginning to experiment with the idea of photography. Muybridge is most famous for photographing a horse in motion, which proved that horses take all four feet off the ground at one point as they gallop. He then went on to invent the ‘Zoopraxiscope’ one of the world's first devices that could project a moving image.
Muybridge was an ambitious person. In 1850, aged 20, Muybridge decided to leave Kingston and head for America. He declared to his grandma, “I’m going to make a name for myself. If I fail, you will never hear from me again.”
Initially, Muybridge worked as a bookseller in New York and San Francisco. He was involved in a stagecoach crash and suffered brain damage in 1860. After recovering from this accident, Muybridge became a photographer. He started out as a landscape photographer, capturing urban scenes of San Francisco to the wilderness views of Yosemite.
Muybridge was a man of mystery who changed his names several times across his career. He had many talents and eventful life. He even invented a washing machine and apparatus for plate printing.
Muybridge hit the headlines in 1878-79 when he demonstrated a way to take a series of photographs of a galloping horse. This was the first time a photographer had captured such fast motion in real time. To prove these photos were real, to doubting people, he successfully demonstrated the moving image using his ‘Zoopraxiscope’.
Across his career, Muybridge took thousands of photos of people and animals moving about. He published many of these motion image series in books and papers, including Attitudes of Animals in Motion (1881) and Animal Locomotion (1887). He toured across America and Europe showing his moving image projector and motion studies.
Muybridge returned to Kingston in 1894. He lived with his cousins in Kingston for the rest of his life. During his final years, Muybridge became a good friend of Benjamin Carter, Head of Kingston Library. It is suggested that this friendship is what led Muybridge to bequeath his personal collection of photographs, equipment and personal belongings to Kingston Museum while it was being built.
Sadly, Muybridge never got to see Kingston Museum. It opened to the public in October 1904, five months after Muybridge’s death. He died on 8th May 1904 at the age of 74.