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Online Collections

Emerging: New Photography Acquisitions


In June 2010, I was appointed Portland Art Museum’s second Curator of Photography, inheriting a vibrant exhibition and collecting program. The Museum has championed the medium for more than one hundred years, featuring it in special exhibitions since the 1910s and establishing a formal collecting program in 1942. The permanent collection of photographs, now numbering more than seven thousand works, continues to grow at a brisk pace: since early 2009 the Museum has acquired more than 500 photographs through donation and purchase. Emerging features highlights from this recent group of additions, illuminating how we have built on the solid foundation of our photography holdings while simultaneously moving forward in fresh directions.

The sudden death of Terry Toedtemeier, our first Curator of Photography, in 2008, temporarily suspended the active exhibition and collecting program that Toedtemeier established during the 1980s. Though his passing slowed acquisitions for a time, it also spurred an outpouring of memorial donations, further strengthening the collection: 132 photographs by more than seventy living artists, as well as significant historical works from collectors of note, were given in honor of Toedtemeier. In addition, more than 120 images by fifty-two artists were added to the Blue Sky Gallery Collection between 2009 and 2012. Founded in 1975, the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts and its Blue Sky Gallery is an internationally respected venue for new photography, and selections from its many exhibitions regularly are added to the Museum’s collection through the generosity of donors and artists. In addition, during this three-year period of transition, benefactors have offered meaningful gifts both large and small, many of which are presented for the first time in these galleries.

Since my arrival at the Museum, I have endeavored to incorporate these valuable legacies into new opportunities and programs for the future. Permanent galleries for the display of works charting the history of photography now are refreshed three times per year. An annual exhibition in this space allows for in-depth explorations of particular themes, while periodic large-scale special exhibitions will bring outstanding artists to Portland from around the world. New donors from across the country are providing us with exceptional works of art as well as purchase funds. Most critically, the creation of an endowment in 2011 for The Minor White Curator of Photography ensures the perpetual stability of a strong photography program. Even as our curatorial voices evolve over time, the Museum will remain dedicated to this vital, relevant, and ever-changing medium.

Curated by Julia Dolan

Exhibition Title

Emerging: New Photography Acquisitions



Curated by

Julia Dolan

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