No Mere Button Pressers Opens at CMA

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) is pleased to announce a new exhibition, No Mere Button-Pressers: Clarence H. White, Ema Spencer, and The Newark Camera Club, a joint production by CMA and The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology. No Mere Button-Pressers will be on view at CMA from August 1 through December 13, 2020 and at The Works from July 18 through December 28, 2020, though The Works is currently closed until further notice due to Licking County’s Level 3 Public Health Emergency.  


Before Clarence H. White became a leading Pictorialist photographer and co-founder of the Photo-Secession movement, he was a young grocery store bookkeeper in Newark, Ohio. The joint installations explore the time White spent in Newark, Ohio (1887–1906), before he left for New York. CMA will focus on work by White and Spencer while The Works will examine how industrial and cultural aspects of Licking County helped shape work by members of the Newark Camera Club. The club included members from many prominent families and was helmed by White.


 CMA will display original work by both White and Ema Spencer, another Newark resident and a budding photographer. Prints made from Spencer’s original glass plate negatives by acclaimed photographer and platinum printer Lois Conner are a highlight of the exhibition.


“I was grateful that Lois Conner, with her considerable expertise as a platinum printer, took an interest in this project. Lois had only seen reproductions of Spencer’s work before, but she studied White’s platinum prints at MoMA while she was a young student at Pratt. Her interpretations of Spencer’s negatives are sensitive and beautiful, and I think the project was meaningful for her as well,” said CMA’s William and Sarah Ross Soter Associate Curator of Photography Anna Lee.


The title of the exhibition, No Mere Button-Pressers, comes from Ema Spencer’s 1898 essay about the new camera club in central Ohio. She claimed that this group of artistically-minded amateur photographers were “no mere ‘button-pressers,” in contrast to the users of the popular new Kodak cameras that allowed anyone to take a photograph by simply pressing a button.        


The Works will feature photographs by White from the Price Family Collection, and display a range of materials designed to provide historical context. Visitors to Newark also have the opportunity to drive past modern-day sites where these avid photographers once lived and photographed.


This exhibition draws exclusively from the collections of Ohio institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Robbins Hunter Museum in Granville, the Webb House Museum, and the Licking County Historical Society. It is supported by Denison University and made possible, in part, by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


About Columbus Museum of Art

Columbus Museum of Art, located at 480 East Broad Street, creates great experiences with great art for everyone. The Greater Columbus Arts Council, Nationwide Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, and the Richard G. and Mary Jo Seyler; Richard H. and Ann Shafer Fund II; Fund for Columbus; and Paul-Henri Bourguignon and Erika Bourguignon Fund for Visual Arts funds of The Columbus Foundation provide ongoing support. CMA and the Museum Store are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Schokko Café accepts online pick-up orders and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $18 for adults; $9 for seniors (60+), students (18+) and children 4 and older; free for members and children 3 and younger; $5 on Thursday evenings (5-9 p.m.). A separate admission fee for special exhibitions may apply. General admission is free for all on Sundays. CMA charges a flat rate of $5 for parking in the Museum’s East Gay lot. Details and guidelines for visiting during COVID-19 at For additional information, call 614.221.6801, visit, or find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @columbusmuseum.


Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, located at 632 North Park Street, is open Thursday & Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, seniors and students 18+. Parking is available at meters, lots and garages throughout the Short North. Details and guidelines for visiting during COVID-19 at For additional information, call 614.221.6801, www.columbusmuseum,.org, or find us on Facebook and Instagram @pizzuticollection.


About The Works

The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology® is a leading regional destination where people of all ages can have fun and be inspired by the history, science, technology and artistic accomplishments of the communities we serve. Reopening to members July 7 and to the public August 4, The Works is a Smithsonian Affiliate Institution located at 55 S. 1st Street, Newark, Ohio 43055. Visit us on the web at


Media Contact: Melissa Ferguson, 614.629.0306,

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