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One Woman’s Legacy: Selections from the Fae Heath Batten Photography Bequest


Dr. Fae Heath Batten (1927–1997), a longtime resident of Salem, Oregon, and an established collector of photography, generously donated more than 160 photographs to the Portland Art Museum in 1997. Her bequest was the largest single gift of photography to that date in the Museum's history, and it remains a cornerstone of the photography collection, which now includes more than 6,500 images. This collection rotation, drawn exclusively from Dr. Batten's bequest, celebrates her generosity to her community and recognizes her exceptional dedication to the photographic medium.

Born in 1927 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Fae Heath earned a music education degree in 1950 and went on to study medicine. She graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1956, one of only seven women in a class of 200. She married her colleague Peter Batten in 1953, and the couple later moved to Portland, Oregon, to complete internships at St. Vincent Hospital. Although they relocated to San Antonio and San Francisco for subsequent appointments, the Battens returned to Oregon in 1960, permanently settling in Salem. For more than 30 years, Fae Heath Batten practiced medicine at Fairview Training Center. She also worked at the Hillcrest School and the Oregon School for the Deaf while serving as a staff member at Salem Hospital.

Dr. Batten was an avid amateur photographer for much of her life, and the Oregon landscape was her favored subject. She began purchasing photographs in 1977, and over the next two decades she methodically built a wide-ranging collection around such important nineteenth- and twentieth-century photographers as Felice Beato, Edward Curtis, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Michael Kenna. While landscapes constitute much of the collection, she also acquired exceptional portraits, architectural views, and cityscapes. Dr. Batten established her relationship with the Museum in 1988, when she loaned 45 photographs to the exhibition 150 Years of Photography, and her periodic donations of single photographs in the early nineties led to the bequest of her collection shortly before her death in 1997. Dr. Batten's generosity of spirit and passion for photography live on at the Portland Art Museum, where visitors will have the opportunity to view selections from her exceptional collection for generations to come.

Curated by Julia Dolan

Exhibition Title

One Woman’s Legacy: Selections from the Fae Heath Batten Photography Bequest



Curated by

Julia Dolan

Organized by

Portland Art Museum

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The Portland Art Museum’s Online Collections site is brought to you thanks to support provided by the State of Oregon through its second Culture, History, Arts, Movies, and Preservation funding program and generous awards from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.