Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Curatorial Department,
RG04:06 Photography Records 1976-1998
A Guide to the Curatorial Department, Photography Recordsin the Archives of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
||Inventory prepared by Kathryn T. Jones
||Archives, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
||P.O. Box 6826; Houston, TX 77265-6826
||Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Curatorial Department,
||43.25 linear feet.
||In 1976, Anne Wilkes Tucker was named consultant in charge of the newly created photography department. The records in this series reflect the development of the department from its founding, its collection development policy, and the collection itself.
||Materials are in English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Japan
||Archives, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
P.O. Box 6826; Houston, TX 77265-6826
Access and Use
Records were transferred to Archives by the curatorial office.
Original photographic materials are subject to photographer´s copyright.
Beaumont Newhall copyright held by David Scheinbaum.
Other curators: RG04; Registration RG05.
Non art object photographs have been removed and placed in the Archives Photo Collection.
Restrictions vary according to the nature of materials. The bulk of the materials are open for public research after fifteen years. Consult the Archives for particulars.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives. RG04:06, Curatorial Department, Photography Records, 1976-1998.
Biographical or Historical Note
Although the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston´s Photography department was not established until 1976, photography was exhibited early in the museum´s history. Early one-man shows included those for Edward Weston (1930) and František Drtikol (1932). In May, 1926, the museum held its first photography exhibition, a juried exhibition of Texas photographers. From then until 1953, annual juried exhibitions of regional photographers were held. Annual exhibitions of the Houston Camera Club were held at the MFAH from 1941 to 1954. Thereafter until the founding of the Photography department, there were infrequent but important exhibitions such as "A Photographic Corpus of African Art — Walker Evans" (1964); Geoff Winningham: Photographs (1974); and solo exhibitions for Diane Arbus, Edward Weston and Roy de Carava in 1975. In 1965, the first large collection of photographs was acquired, commissioned from Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ezra Stoller for the project, "The Galveston That Was", and exhibited that year.
Target Stores, Inc. made its first donation in February 1976 to begin the Target Collection of American Photography and the MFAH Photography department was established that December when Anne Wilkes Tucker was hired as a consultant to act as curator of photography. In 1978 she was named curator and in 1984 she was named the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator. In 2001 TIME magazine honored Tucker as "America´s Best Curator". In 2006, Tucker received the Life Time Achievement award, a Focus Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography, recognizing individuals who have made critical contributions to the promotion of photography. She has also received an Alumnae Achievement award from Randolph Macon Women´s college; fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Getty Center, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the Dora Maar House in Ménerbes, France; and has consistently been voted as one of the top 50 most influential people in America by the American Photo magazine.
As of the end of 2010, the MFAH has mounted over 280 exhibitions relating to photography. Significant exhibitions organized by the Photography department include: Sidney Grossman: Photographs 1936-1955 (1981); Unknown Territory: Photographs by Ray K. Metzker, 1957-83 (1984); Robert Frank: New York to Nova Scotia (1986); Czech Modernism: 1900-1945 (1989); Money Matters: A Critical Look at Bank Architecture (1990); Contemporary Mexican Photography (1992); Tradition and the Unpredictable: The Allan Chasanoff Photographic Collection (1994); Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach (1996); and Brassaď: The Eye of Paris (1998); Louis Faurer Retrospective (2002); The History of Japanese Photography (2003); The Great Wall of China: Photographs by Chen Changfen (2007) and Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photograps (2009).
The MFAH Photography collection now consists of over 24,000 works by approximately 4,000 artists. Among the major artists represented in the collection are: Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Eugene Atget, John Baldessari, Gay Block, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Sidney Grossman, Ishimoto Yasuhiro, Andre Kertesz, George Krause, Man Ray, Richard Misrach, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Irving Penn, Edward Steichen; Alfred Stieglitz, Josef Sudek, Edward Weston, and Geoff Winningham. The department has developed important bodies of work from Japan, Argentina and the former Czechoslovakia. In addition to the Target Collection of American Photography, the department has also acquired many substantial collections since its founding. Among these are the Anthony G. Cronin Memorial Collection (1978-1997); the Willour Collection (1978-); the Mundy Companies Collection and gifts of Joe, Marion E. and David Mundy (1979-); the Sonia and Kaye Marvins Portrait Collection (1984-); the Morgenstern Collection (1986-); Allan Chasanoff Photographic Collection (1991-1993); Songs of My People (1995); Robert Frank´s Collection of photographs by other artists (2002) and "here is new york" (2005).
Additionally, in the early 1980´s the department acquired 284 Robert Frank photographs created in conjunction with "The Americans" as well as all of Robert Frank´s films and videos, the original maquettes for "The Americans" and "The Lines of My Hand", and an additional 50 photos by Frank.
In early 2002, the MFAH acquired nearly 4,000 photographs from the renowned collector Manfred Heiting. Assembled over the last thirty years, the collection includes a comprehensive selection of major photographers´ works as well as examples of photographic processes dating to photography´s invention in 1839. It is considered one of the finest photography collections in the world.
The photography curatorial files are arranged by subgroup correspnding to the curatorial department (RG04:06) and then by series and subseries.
The files of Anne Wilkes Tucker (1976-present) are Series 01. These are further arranged in two subseries:
RG04:06:01.2.1 Alphabetical correspondence; and
RG04:06:01.2.2 Interoffice correspondence.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The correspondence files contain letters to and from photographers, galleries which both represent artists and sell their works, and institutions with photographic collections. The contents of the correspondence reflect the core activities of the department — acquisitions and exhibitions — as well as fundraising.
The subject files document the development of the photography department and include information on conservation, art object and artist research, and MFAH involvement in FotoFest. Also included is information on the formation of the African American Art Advisory Association (Five-A) in 1993, the Oracle conference for photography curators held in Houston in 1992, and the history of the department of photography and the MFAH.
The Robert Frank Files contain materials documenting the museum´s exhibition Robert Frank: New York to Nova Scotia (February 15 - April 27, 1986), curated by Anne Wilkes Tucker. Documents include correspondence; drafts of essays and other manuscripts; film scripts; transcripts of interviews; reviews and articles from newspapers and magazines; loan forms and agreements; invitation lists and invitations; grants applications and supporting documents; and press kit materials.
Art and Photography
Frank, Robert, 1924-
Glassell, Alfred C. (Alfred Curry), 1914-2008
Misrach, Richard, 1949-
J. Paul Getty Museum
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation