Shortly after the development of photography in France and England at the end of the 1830s, the medium was introduced with great fanfare and enthusiasm to the United States. Since those early days, photography has become an important creative medium in American cultural life through its application in the areas of fine art, science, and documentary projects. The de Young Museum has played an important role in the history of American photography, having hosted the historic F64 group exhibition in 1932. With the opening of the new de Young, a designated gallery for the rotating display of photography will be inaugurated, which recognizes the importance that the Fine Arts Museums places on photography as a creative medium.
The first exhibition will be devoted to a survey of major American photographs from the Museums’ permanent collection. Included in this selection will be important works by Josiah Johnson Hawes, John Plumbe, Alexander Gardner, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, Thomas Eakins, Carleton E. Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, Edward Steichen, and Imogen Cunningham. There will also be a selection of works on loan from the Prentice and Paul Sack Photographic Trust, as well as from other collections.