The Kingsborough Art Museum (KAM) has much to celebrate this upcoming academic year—first, the recent donation of over seventy photographs to the college, and secondly—in a near-perfect lining up of the stars—the 180th Anniversary of Photography (1839-2019). Both will be acknowledged with a series of exhibitions that focus (pun intended) on the medium’s history and its role in capturing and shaping history, society, and culture.
Kingsborough Community College received this generous donation through The Museum Project, a California-based artist collective created to encourage museums and universities to acquire photographs for their permanent collections. From its inception in 2012, The Museum Project has given nearly 5000 photographs to some 170 institutions, including the Princeton University Art Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Syracuse University Art Galleries, and the International Center of Photography (ICP).
Photographer Robert von Sternberg, the Director of The Museum Project, reached out to the Kingsborough Art Museum in July 2017, offering a large selection of images from which to choose. Dr. Brian E. Hack, Director of KAM, culled seventy-three images he felt best exemplified the mission of the Kingsborough Art Museum and the spirit of Kingsborough. The result is a collection of powerful images that will hopefully one day be displayed throughout the campus. “The rationale for accepting this generous donation,” says Hack, “is that these incredible photographs will be studied by Kingsborough art students and enjoyed by the campus community—which is precisely the goal of The Museum Project, to bring art into public collections in ways that engage viewers and spark dialogue.”
The donation includes photographs by Robert von Sternberg; Barry Anderson; Bonnie Schiffman; Darryl Curran; Kenda North; Melanie Walker; Michael Stone; Nancy Webber; Robert Fichter; Sheila Pinkel; Suda House; and Todd Walker. A highlight of the collection is Schiffman’s portraits of such notables as Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol, Dennis Hopper, and Michael Jackson.
To show its gratitude, the Kingsborough Art Museum is planning a series of four photography exhibitions spaced over the next two years. The series, entitled Oh, Snap! KAM Salutes 180 Years of Photography, kicks off with a selection of works from The Museum Project donation. Other exhibitions to follow include historical and contemporary images from the New York Press Photographers Association (NYPPA), as well as a capstone show to be curated by Professor Tommy Mintz that explores new approaches to photography in the digital age. Hack believes the series will “illustrate for students not only the aesthetic qualities and various techniques of photography, but also the ways in which photographs mediate our understanding of reality, past and present.” Inspiring Images: The Museum Project opens at the Kingsborough Art Museum on November 7, 2018 and runs through December 19.