Photography Collection

The Photography Collection encompasses the medium’s entire history, from 1839 to the present. It grew from a holding of 1,015 primarily American works to a collection of over 7,500 with the acquisition in December 2005 of the famed Hallmark Photographic Collection, one of the finest private collections of American photography ever assembled. Since that date, further acquisitions and gifts have enlarged the collection to over 10,000 works.  

Notable artists represented in the collection include such prominent 19th-century figures as Southworth & Hawes, Mathew Brady, George N. Barnard, Carleton Watkins, Timothy O’Sullivan, and Edward Muybridge; such leading 20th-century names as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston, Charles Sheeler, André Kertész, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith, Diane Arbus and many more.

In the Photography galleries, a survey of the creative history of the medium is on view at all times, with new installations presented about three times a year. Medium-scale temporary exhibitions—drawn both from the museum’s permanent collection and borrowed from other institutions—are also presented about three times a year.

The Hallmark Photographic Collection

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art acquired the Hallmark Photographic Collection in December 2005, through a combination gift and purchase. Primarily American in the scope of its holdings, the collection spans the entire history of photography, from the birth of the medium in 1839 to the present. At the time of its acquisition by the Museum, it included more than 6,500 works by 900 artists, with superb examples by virtually all the key American photographers in history. 

With this acquisition, the Nelson-Atkins immediately assumed a position as one of the premier museums in the world for photography.


Photography Exhibitions and Programs

In the Looking Glass: Recent Daguerreotype Acquisitions
Through July 20, 2014
Admission is FREE


The Photography Society

In response to a strong expression of community interest, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has recently established a new special interest group, The Photography Society.

Find out more information and how to join the Photography Society.

Publications

A definitive look at the overall scope of the museum’s photography collection is provided by these two books, which together comprise an unprecedented history of American photography, the first from 1839 to 1885, the second from 1885 to the present:  

The Origins of American Photography, From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate, 1839-1885, by Keith F. Davis and Jane L. Aspinwall (Yale University Press,2007).

An American Century of Photography: From Dry-Plate to Digital; The Hallmark Photographic Collection, by Keith F. Davis (Hallmark Cards/Abrams, 1999).

Publications on individual bodies of work within the overall collection and exhibitions include the following:

Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet, by Simon Kelly and April M. Watson (Saint Louis Art Museum and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2013). 


Timothy H. O’Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs, by Keith F. Davis and Jane L. Aspinwall (Hall Family Foundation/Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2011)

The Photographs of Ray K. Metzker, by Keith F. Davis (Hall Family Foundation/Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2012)

Heartland: The Photographs of Terry Evans, by Keith F. Davis, Jane L. Aspinwall and April M. Watson (Hall Family Foundation/Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2012)

The Photographs of Homer Page: The Guggenheim Year: New York, 1949-50 (Hall Family Foundation/Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2009).

The Photographs of Dorothea Lange, by Keith F. Davis, with contributions by Kelle A. Botkin (Hallmark Cards/Abrams, 1995).

The Passionate Observer: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten, by Keith F. Davis (Hallmark Cards/University of New Mexico Press, 1993).

Clarence John Laughlin: Visionary Photographer, edited by Keith F. Davis (Hallmark Cards/University of New Mexico Press, 1990).

George N. Barnard: Photographer of Sherman's Campaign, by Keith F. Davis (Hallmark Cards/University of New Mexico Press, 1990).

Todd Webb: Photographs of New York and paris, 1945-1960, by Keith F. Davis (Hallmark Cards/University of New Mexico Press, 1988).