Photography Collection Fact Sheet

Overview of the Collection

VMFA has built a collection of some 1,200 photographs during the past 75 years. The photography collection began in the museum’s opening year, 1936, with a gift from the Carnegie Corporation of 163 photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston, showing significant Virginia architecture. Between 1936 and 1956, the Camera Club of Richmond made consistent donations of photographs by its members. In 1973, VMFA began to strategically build the collection, with an eye toward key moments in the history of the medium, from an 1844 calotype by Henry William Fox Talbot to the work of Lee Friedlander and Diane Arbus. Generous donations by private collectors helped form deep holdings of several key 20thcentury photographers, including Gertrude Käsebier, Clarence John Laughlin, Walker Evans, Aaron Siskind, and Gary Winogrand. Currently VMFA seeks to further diversify its holdings of 19th and 20th century photographs while simultaneously bringing it up to the present with acquisitions from photographers around the world, as well as from Virginia.

Dr. Sarah L. Eckhardt
Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
VMFA’s permanent collection encompasses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Its collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, English silver, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia are among the finest in the nation. With acclaimed holdings in American, British Sporting, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, and Modern and Contemporary art – and additional strengths in African, Ancient, East Asian, and European – VMFA ranks as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. Programs include educational activities and studio classes for all ages, plus lively after-hours events. VMFA’s Statewide Partnership program includes traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. VMFA is open 365 days a year and general admission is always free. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit