With a vastness that captures the essence of the great upheavals of the nation in the 1800s, the New Orleans Museum of Art fashions a collection of photography and paintings to capture that spirit and forge the future for the young country.

"East of the Mississippi — Ninteenth-Century American Landscape Photography" opens Friday and continues through Jan. 7. The assemblage includes more than 150 works.

In association with NOMA, this landmark exhibition, co-organized by the National Gallery of Art is the first to exclusively explore a chapter of the county's photographic history — 19th-century American landscape photography made east of the Mississippi River. These images of the eastern half of the United States helped shape evolving mythologies of the American wilderness, revealed the impact of the Civil War on the physical landscape and played an important role in industrialization and environmental preservation.

Included are daguerreotypes, salt prints, albumen prints, stereographic images and paintings ranging from 1839 to 1899. Presented in six sections, expressing aesthetic, moral, topographic and instrumental concerns, it includes some of the oldest known photographs in the United States, many never before exhibited.

Because of the fragility of many of the pieces, this exhibition is a rare opportunity to examine important records of American history.

The exhibition is organized by Diane Waggoner, curator of 19th-century photographs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Its presentation at NOMA is organized by Russell Lord, curator of photographs.

“We are delighted to present this groundbreaking exhibition featuring some of the earliest photographs of eastern sites, which showcase an extraordinary time in American history,” said Susan Taylor, director of NOMA.

A 288-page hardcover catalog will be available by calling (504) 658-4133 or emailing museumshop@noma.org.

NOMA is located at 1 Collins Diboll Circle, City Park, New Orleans. noma.org.