How photos of JFK lost in 9/11 were recovered and restored


posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:09 PM EST

One of the hidden losses of the 9/11 attacks were some incredible pieces of art that were stored in the World Trade Center. Not the least among them were 40,000 negatives of the Kennedy family, shot by acclaimed photographer Jacques Lowe, and stored in a fireproof safe, in a bank vault in the Twin Towers. But now, the Newseum of Washington DC has used a team of photo retouchers to bring back some of these images that were thought all but lost.

The exhibit, titled "Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe" involved the cleaning up of 170 photos by a team of seven photo restorers, over the course of 600 hours. It turns out that some some 1,500 of Lowe’s contact sheets and prints were stored at another site in New York City, and survived the attack. These were primarily contact sheets and work proofs, often faded with age, and covered with notes and scribbles. The retouchers had to not only take a one-inch contact proof and blow it up to a full size, 60-inch image, but had to remove all the dust, scratches, and markings that went along with it.

Lowes was brought on board with Kennedy's campaign as a photographer a full two years before he was elected President, and was afforded incredible access to the Kennedy family throughout their time in the White House. He built up an unparalleled collection of photographs with them, so many of which were lost during 9/11. This project marks an incredible effort to restore some of these images, from some pretty sub-optimal sources. But since so many of these photos come from contact sheets, it also gives the curators a chance to see the events around some of the more famed and iconic photos, to see the ones that didn't make the cut the first time.

Estate of Jacques Lowe

(via Time)