The Burns Archive - Atlas Obscura
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New York, New York

The Burns Archive

Explore a staggering private collection of photographs depicting medical, social, and historical change.

The walls of Dr. Stanley Burns’ brownstone home are covered in incredible photographs depicting anatomical oddities, medical procedures, historic events, and social movements. There are drawers full of daguerrotypes and closets crammed with photos in boxes labeled “Skulls” and “Crime Scenes.” And that’s just a mere fraction of his collection. The Burns Archive, which incorporates images from the mid-19th century through the 1950s, numbers over a million photographs.

This Obscura Day, join Dr. Burns and the archive’s Creative and Operations Director Elizabeth Burns for a very special tour delving into Burns' private and extensive collection, typically not open to the public for viewing. The Archive, which Dr. Burns has been amassing since 1975,  is a uniquely comprehensive visual documentation of how the world, particularly the field of medicine, has changed since photography was first introduced.


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