Main content

Robert Alcott Collection of Crystalline Photographs


Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Science History Institute Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Robert B. Alcott, a former documentary cinematographer and editor, produced these pieces after seven years of trial and error. Alcott mixed various chemical compounds onto glass slides and using a large format camera and polarized light he photographed the crystalline result, creating multicolor abstract artworks. He tried chemicals from a local hobby shop as well as honey, wine and other organic substances, none of which produced the results he was after. Through a serendipitous communication he acquired multiple compounds through GFS Chemicals in Powell, Ohio. After conducting more technical tests to achieve the product he was after, he eventually created the pieces in the collection.

Collection consists of twenty 11x14 inch prints of Alcott's work, a notebook, loose notes documenting his process, a CD and DVD with digital images of the artwork. The notebook dates from 1994-1995 and includes details on various compounds Alcott experimented with to make his creations. Three 4x6 inch photo albums detail art exhibits containing his work and a printed copy of the contents of his website (which is no longer online) are also included. Eighteen of the 11x14 prints hang in the gallery of Science History Institute, and have been there since their accession in 2008.

Gift of Robert B. Alcott, 2008; 2011.

Source of acquisition--Alcott, Robert B. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--2008; 2011.

Science History Institute Archives
Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

To obtain reproduction and copyright information, contact

Collection Inventory

Print, Suggest