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Park Pieces: Bourne photo of a giant bell

In June, the Museum of Photographic Arts became part of Flickr Commons, a section of the online photo sharing site that reveals photos from public archives and museums. Since joining the Commons and making more than 500 photos accessible online, MoPA’s photos have attracted about 75,000 views and comments from Flickr's international audience.

One of the most popular images has been this photo by Samuel Bourne, a 19th century photographer whose work focused on India and Southeast Asia. This photo shows a bell, located in Burma (Myanmar), that is said to weigh 90 tons.

Big Bell

Scott Davis, MoPA’s director of exhibitions and design, has been watching the comments on this photo and the connections that people are making to the bell’s Wikipedia page, which now features the 1873 Bourne photo.

“The comments lead the reader from disbelief over the weight of this bell to a fascinating history of it, including the fact it was shaken from its foundation by an earthquake just two months after the birth of photography,” Davis said. Until 2000, the bell ranked as the largest ringing bell in the world.

MoPA has a collection of nearly 100 Samuel Bourne images and created an exhibition of Bourne's work in 1983, the year MoPA opened to the public. Explore MoPA’s collections on Flickr to discover more photos by Bourne and other prominent photographers from the 19th and 20th centuries.