Waterworks: Photographs by Carole Starr Schein

Before the Waterworks Museum in Chestnut Hill, Boston was restored and opened to the public in 2011, it suffered decades of neglect, disuse, and looting. Built in 1887, designed by Arthur Vinal, Boston City Architect at the time, to pump water from the nearby reservoir into the Boston water system, the building also housed the first testing lab for municipal water in the country. Rescued from demolition by concerned citizen groups and developers, the Waterworks has been restored as a museum, and many ancillary buildings have now become residences.

When Carole Starr Schein visited in November of 1997, however, restoration of the Waterworks was a distant dream. Her camera captured the cobwebs and history locked inside the disused building, and the magnificent arcs of powerful machinery halted mid-pump. 

It has been said, and Schein asserts, that an image that is time deep is richer than those that are dealing with the present and the new. By using light and texture, the images are transformed into objects of mystery, irony, and elegance. Age transforms strong lines into soft design. You should be able to find within the present world a tracery of hints, remnants, and ghosts of the world past.

These photographs are presented as a document of decay in progress, the liminal period between function and preservation. 

Curatorial Advisor: Andrea Frank
Photography Assistant: Sofia Berinstein
Production Assistant: Clay Anderson
Exhibition Design: Sarah Hirschman