Museums and universities hold some of the world’s best photography collections. Unlike works owned by private collectors, these institutions have a mission that includes sharing their collections with the public. But due to exhibition schedules and space constraints, many exquisite works are kept in storage for most of their lives. This series asks museum and university curators to mine their institution’s archives and share a selection of photographic works online for Don’t Take Pictures.
Founded by Columbia College Chicago in 1976, the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) collaborates with artists, photographers, communities, and institutions locally, nationally, and internationally. The MoCP’s permanent collection, comprised of over 14,000 objects, embraces a wide range of contemporary aesthetics and technologies, and the works are heavily accessed by students, educators, research specialists, and general audiences in its very active print viewing program.
Initially, the MoCP’s permanent collection defined “contemporary” as works made by American photographers since the 1950s. In the early 2000s, the date was pushed back to include the Farm Security Administration works of the 1930s and works by international artists. Because of its initial narrow collection focus, the MoCP is now taking large strides to expand its holdings of works by international and minority, artists, specifically focusing on women artists and African, Asian, Latin American, Islamic, and Native American art.
The works highlighted here are by women artists who have been in the MoCP’s collection for years—or decades—but that have rarely or never been included its exhibitions.
Kristin Taylor is the Manager of Collections for the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago.