Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Receives Major Gift of Photographs From Joy of Giving Something, Inc.

More Than 1,000 Photographs Enter VMFA’s Permanent Art Collection

Richmond, VA — The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced today its receipt of 1,124 photographs from Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS), a nonprofit organization committed to advancing the art and accessibility of photography through support for residencies, museums, educational institutions and community-based organizations. This recent gift to VMFA features work by more than 25 photographers and includes 26 bodies of work created between the 19th century and the present day.

“The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is thrilled to receive this extraordinary gift of photographs,” said Alex Nyerges, Director and CEO. “This extensive and wide-ranging body of works donated by Joy of Giving Something to the museum is transformative, as it deepens and broadens our photography collection and opens new avenues for research, collecting and exhibition development.”

The photographs are drawn from the extensive holdings assembled by financier Howard Stein (1927–2011), who began to collect photography in the 1980s and amassed one of the most significant collections of historic, modern and contemporary photography in the United States. Among the highlights are 27 photographs by conceptual artist Robert Heinecken, 125 photographs by renowned photographer Mark Steinmetz that chronicle the American South over the last 30 years, Larry Clark’s portfolio Tulsa (1980), Paul Strand’s classic Mexico portfolio and a 19th-century album by French photographer Charles Nègre that documents one of Napoléon III’s building and social projects. Other significant gifts include 102 photographs by Joseph Mills from his Washington D.C. series Inner City and strong holdings of work by 20th-century and contemporary artists, including Walter Chappell, Tim Davis, Chris Enos, Hans Eijkelboom, Harry Gruyaert, Todd Hido, David Maisel, Tanya Marcuse, Doug and Mike Starn, John Szarkowski and Catherine Wagner.

“One of the extraordinary aspects of this gift is that it enables VMFA to explore the work of so many talented photographers in significant depth and allows us to delve into a variety of practices, from 19th-century architectural photography to documentary practice to contemporary conceptual projects. Because the gift includes large holdings and even entire series by these artists, we have the opportunity to dig deep into individual practices and projects,” said Dr. Sarah Kennel, Aaron Siskind Curator of Photography and Director of the Raysor Center for Works on Paper at VMFA. “Together, these wonderful works will strengthen our ability to present the rich history of photography in focused ways and augment opportunities for programming in the museum’s planned photography galleries, which are part of VMFA’s upcoming expansion.”

In addition to expanding the museum’s holdings overall, several groups of newly gifted photographs directly complement other works in VMFA’s permanent art collection. Made between 1983 and approximately 1989, 42 photographs from Ira Nowinski’s project The Studio of Man Ray, which sensitively documented the expatriate American artist’s creative space, details many of the objects that appear in VMFA’s extensive collection of photographic portraits made by Man Ray in Paris between the two world wars. Focused on memory, family and everyday life, 60 photographs by American photographer Raymond Meeks that form his series The Sound of Summer Running build on the museum’s strong holdings of domestic, intimate photographs made in the South by artists like Emmet Gowin and Sally Mann. Work from Mark Steinmetz’s series South Central and South East, as well as Debbie Fleming Caffery’s photographs made in New Orleans’ 9th Ward in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, also broaden VMFA’s compilation of photography made in and about the American South.

This expansive collection of works mirrors the visionary practices of JGS founder, Howard Stein. Among the most important photography collectors of the past 50 years, Stein enthusiastically embraced the diversity and creativity of the photographic medium, qualities that are reflected in this important gift to VMFA. For more information about the museum’s permanent art collection, visit

# # #

About Joy of Giving Something, Inc.
Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS) is a New York-based nonprofit organization that is committed to expanding access, education and equity through photography. JGS has supported artists and museums through exhibitions, awards and book projects and has donated significant portions of the JGS collection to prominent museums including the Peabody Essex Museum, the Yale Center for British Art, Harvard Art Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of the City of New York. In recent years, JGS has focused on improving and expanding access to arts education in underserved communities in New York City through grants and professional development opportunities for students and teachers in public schools, after-school programs and community organizations.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. VMFA, which opened in 1936, is a state agency and privately endowed educational institution. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret art, and to encourage the study of the arts. Through the Office of Statewide Partnerships program, the museum offers curated exhibitions, arts-related audiovisual programs, symposia, lectures, conferences, and workshops by visual and performing artists. In addition to presenting a wide array of special exhibitions, the museum provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a global collection of art that spans more than 6,000 years. VMFA’s permanent holdings encompass nearly 50,000 artworks, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, the finest collection of Art Nouveau outside of Paris and one of the nation’s finest collections of American art. VMFA is also home to important collections of Chinese art, English silver, and French Impressionist, Postimpressionist, British sporting and modern and contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan and African art. In May 2010, VMFA opened the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing I after a transformative expansion, previously the largest in its history. A new expansion, the McGlothlin Wing II, is planned to open in 2028. Comprising more than 170,000 square feet, it will be the largest expansion in the museum’s history and will make VMFA the fifth largest art museum in the United States.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the only art museum in the United States open 365 days a year with free general admission. For additional information, telephone (804) 340-1400 or visit

Media Contacts

Jan Hatchette | (804) 204-2721 |
Amy Peck | (804) 773-1791 |
MacLaine Bamberger | (804) 204-2717 |

200 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., Richmond, VA 23220