Building a Collection: Photography at the Fitchburg Art Museum
Through Summer 2014
This special exhibition, organized by Consulting Curator of Photography Stephen Jareckie, features historically significant photographers including Peter Henry Emerson, Alexander Gardner, Alfred Stieglitz, Charles Sheeler, Berenice Abbott, Edward Weston, Bradford Washburn, Harold E. Edgerton, and Paul Caponigro.
The Fitchburg Art Museum began collecting fine art photographs since 1980 by accepting the anonymous donation of Charles Sheeler’s Lever House, an image celebrating an iconic international-style, glass-faced structure erected in mid-town Manhattan during New York’s building boom after World War II. Two more Sheeler photographs, taken in 1929 at Chartres, France, were donated in 1981, which laid the foundation for what has become a collection of over 450 photographic prints.
Next, the Museum created a special gallery for changing photography exhibitions in the new Simonds Building, opened in 1989. The Museum has since mounted over forty special photography exhibitions - both major presentations and one-person shows. The photography collection developed as an outgrowth of the exhibition program. Generous donors – photographers and collectors –gave impetus to the Museum’s collecting activity, and advantageous purchases have also strengthened the Museum photographic holdings. In particular, Jude Peterson, a Massachusetts collector and a friend of the Museum, helped sustain our photography program from the late 1990s until his untimely death in 2009. He left over 330 photographs to the Museum. The Jude Peterson Collection, which includes works by major artists, serves as a solid base for the growing collection. The pictures displayed in these newly installed galleries trace the history of photography from the 1860s to the 21st century. These images, mainly American in character, present an overview of a photography collection built over three decades.
This exhibition was organized by FAM Consulting Curator of Photography, Stephen Jareckie, and is supported by the Robert and Elaine Smith Photography Fund. Special thanks to the Culley Street Frame Shop, Fitchburg, MA, for assisting with artwork preparation.