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: Growing a Collection


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Hall and Kate Butler Peterson had been watching with great interest the Institute's frequent and popular photography exhibitions, noting that they were all drawn from the collections of such museums as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, and The Art Institute of Chicago. The Petersons' energetic advocacy of the MIA's expanding public role inspired them to suggest to then-director Anthony Morris Clark their creation of a purchase fund for the formation of a permanent collection of photographs, both historic and contemporary. This collection would then position the Institute among those other forward-looking arts museums as an active center for the acquisition, display, and study of this vital and ubiquitous art form.What began as an annual donation of discretionary purchase funds expanded into a five-year program, which actually continued for seven years, until the Petersons and their children moved to Massachusetts. This was ample time to fulfill their goal of demonstrating to other donors the efficacy of focused, consistent support in initiating and sustaining a new curatorial department.The timing of this beginning was nearly perfect. In 1972 and continuing through the late '70s, only a handful of commercial galleries in the United States exhibited and sold photographs. The burgeoning photography market of today was a mere speculative fantasy of a few entrepreneurial dealers; the auction houses of Christie's and Sotheby's were just beginning to develop photography programs; and the prices for even the most important photographers' work, like that of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Alfred Stieglitz, were relatively low.In the course of the intervening years, which included the publication of The Making of a Collection in 1984, our collection has grown impressively through the generous support of numerous donors, like Harry Drake, Lora and Martin Weinstein, Ingrid Lenz and Alfred Harrison, and other advocates of the Department of Photography. The new permanent photography gallery was named in memory of the Harrison's son, Martin Lenz Harrison. The Harrison's unparalleled vision, encouragement, and support has inspired the greatest momentum to the quality and depth of the collection since its inception more than 20 years ago.Currently the collection holds roughly 9,000 photographs—an ample and convincing fulfillment of the Petersons' faith in the dynamic character of photography, in this museum's commitment to this new collection area, and importantly, in our public's continuing interest in photography."Photography: The Collection Grows, 1983-96," which runs May 31 through August 24, 1997, is a selection of the most important photographs acquired by purchase and gift between 1983 and 1996. It is meant to honor and thank the many benefactors who have nurtured and continue to nurture the collection's advancement and growth, and to celebrate photography's rich artistic legacy. The selection is a concise overview—the top 100 prints from the very earliest years of photography to the most recent. Following the exhibit's presentation in the MIA's Harrison Photography Gallery, it will travel to the Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, thanks to the enthusiastic support of James R. and Joan Jundt of Wayzata, Minnesota.Carroll T. Hartwell is the curator of Photography."Photography: The Collection Grows, 1983-96"
May 31 through August 24, 1997
Harrison Photography GalleryRelated ImagesJock Sturges
American, born 1947
Christina, Misty Dawn, and Alyse, Northern California, 1989
Gelatin silver print
Gift of funds from Myron KuninBernice Abbott
American, 1898-1991
A. Zito Bakery, 259 Blecker Street, Manhattan, 1937
From Retrospective portfolio
Gelatin silver print (1982)
Gift of the William R. Hibbs FamilyDorothea Lange
American, 1895-1965
White Angel Breadline, San Francisco, 1933
Gelatin silver print (1950s)
The John R. Van Derlip FundJean-Eugène-Auguste Atget
French, 1857-1927
Magasin, Avenue des Gobelins, 1925
Gift of Roberta C. DeGolyerHarold E. Edgerton
American, 1903-1990
Milk Drop Coronet
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Harold and Ester Edgerton Family FoundationAndré Kertész
American (born Austria-Hungary), 1894-1985
Satiric Dancer, Paris, 1926
Gelatin silver print
The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund
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Source: Carroll T. Hartwell, "Growing a Collection: In 1972, a young Twin Cities couple, actively involved at the Institute, proposed a unique and generous offer in support of a new acquisition initiative," <i>Arts</i> 20, no. 6 (June 1997): 6-7.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009