KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Niki Benhardt loves art which is one of the reasons why Wednesday she’s working on a school project at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

“We have to find a piece of art anywhere around the museum and sketch it,” Benhardt said.

What caught her eye was the display called, Planets In My Head.

“Drawing a person that doesn’t have a head, it’s going to be hard and it’s at a different angle so I kind of wanted to like, challenge myself,” Benhardt said.

But literally right next to the artwork is the museum’s darkest exhibit, the Daguerreotypes. It is the earliest form of commercially successful photography.

Slavery Photo Nelson Atkins Museum.transfer_frame_1422.png

“Basically, a highly polished silver plate on which there’s a photographic emulsion,” Jane Aspinwall, curator of photography, said.

Right now, the museum has Daguerreotypes of the California gold rush, but very soon, they’ll be adding a new, but different type of Daguerreotype to the collection. It’s the earliest known photograph of slavery. It shows what experts believe to be slaves working on a Georgia plantation.

“It’s really exciting to have a piece that has not been known before, it’s never been in the public sphere,” Aspinwall said.

Because of its rarity, the bidding process to get it was extremely intense.

“You always kind of have that magic price point in your head and unfortunately for us, we went way above that price point, but for something extraordinary like this, I mean, how do you really put any kind of a monetary value on it,” Aspinwall said.

The Hall Family Foundation in Kansas City was able to purchase it and is now gifting it to the museum, which at this time, is not on display just yet.

“We will have it on view as soon as we can. We are kind of playing around with some ideas of perhaps doing a smaller scale show,” Aspinwall said.

Aspinwall says the photo will be displayed in Kansas City, but because it’s so rare, they hopefully plan to share the picture with other museums around the country in the future.

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