Over 70 exhibits, most of which are exhibited for the first time, tell about the history of the development of photographic processes from the 1840s to 1910s - the period of the most active technical experiments and creative searches. The objects presented at the exposition demonstrate to the viewer a variety of photographic techniques, among which, as rare as photography on the calico, on porcelain, and quite popular at the time, but now rarely seen in Russian museum collections, are tintipia (or ferrotype), ambrotypia, cyanotype.
A separate topic shows photographs of objects of art - photographic reproductions, one of the main aspirations in the creation of which was the desire to learn how to convey and preserve natural colors. The exhibition features one of the earliest such color images of the French photographer Leon Vidal. The work of F. L. Nikolaevsky, the first official photographer of the Imperial Hermitage, makes it possible to assess the level of skill and training of museum photographers of that time. Being, at first, an instrument for accurately fixing the surrounding world, photography gradually developed its own artistic language and became an independent art form. This section is presented by the works of such masters of art photography as Baron Wilhelm von Gleden, Jan Bulgak and Vasily Sokornov.