FORT WORTH, Texas—The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the Amon Carter Museum of American Art a $150,000 grant to make the personal archives of eight prominent American photographers of the 20th century available online. The museum acquired the archives of artists Carlotta Corpron, Nell Dorr, Laura Gilpin, Eliot Porter, Helen Post, Clara Sipprell, Erwin E. Smith and Karl Struss between 1979 and 2006. The photographs were previously digitized and now the museum has the support to capture approximately 40,000 unpublished documents and other items, providing researchers the means for deeper understanding of these photographers’ lives and their work.
“Our archives document a period when photography was being shaped into an accepted art form,” says Jonathan Frembling, archivist and reference services manager at the museum. “These photographers were in communities that were making great photography—places like New York City in the early 20th century and Taos and Santa Fe in the ‘30s and ‘40s—and they were the colleagues, collaborators and competitors of the big artists, in all media, of their day.”
The items will be digitized over a three-year period ending in fall 2019 and will include correspondence, manuscripts and three-dimensional objects such as cameras. The grant has allowed the museum to hire two full-time staff for the duration of the project to photograph and create detailed descriptions of the items. At the end of the project, a new search interface available on the museum’s website will enable scholars and the general public to search across these collections, allowing them to discover connections between documents and related photographs. As an added benefit, digitization also serves a preservation role by reducing the handling of original items.
“Stewardship of the archives of photographers who have defined the medium is just as important as adding contemporary works to the collection,” says Andrew J. Walker, executive director. “Sharing their work with the larger community through this support from IMLS is an honor.”
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art houses one of this country’s most important collections of American photographs. An integral part of the institution’s program since its opening in 1961, the collection includes over 45,000 exhibition-quality photographs by more than 450 photographers. The holdings span the full history of the photographic medium, from one of the earliest daguerreotypes made in this country to inkjet prints being made today. They reflect photography’s central role in documenting America’s culture and history and convey the medium’s development as a significant and influential art form. This grant helps ensure a wider range of the population will have the opportunity to see these works online and encourage visitors to see the artists’ works in person.
About the Photography Collection
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is home to over 45,000 exhibition-quality photographs by more than 450 photographers spanning the history of the medium in the United States. The collection began within months of the museum’s 1961 opening. Since then the holdings have grown to reflect photography’s central role in documenting America’s 19th-century culture and history and the medium’s development as a significant and influential art form in the 20th century to the present.
Collection highlights include:
• Significant holdings of 19th-century landscape photographs, including works by William Henry Jackson, Timothy O’Sullivan and Carleton Watkins
• Key works by many 20th-century masters from Berenice Abbott and Ansel Adams to Edward Weston
• More than 1,400 early portraits of Native Americans
• One of two complete sets of Richard Avedon’s acclaimed series: In the American West (an Amon Carter Museum of American Art commission)
• Complete sets of Alfred Stieglitz’s seminal journals Camera Notes, Camera Work, 291, and of Edward S. Curtis’ 22-volume opus The North American Indian
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Through grant making, policy development, and research, IMLS helps libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.