MFAH Photography Study Center has been named for Anne Wilkes Tucker, founding curator of photography

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MFAH Photography Study Center has been named for Anne Wilkes Tucker, founding curator of photography
View of the Anne Wilkes Tucker Photography Study Center at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Photos by Will Michels. Photograph © The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

HOUSTON, TX.- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, announced today the naming of the Anne Wilkes Tucker Photography Study Center, a gift of Joan and Stanford Alexander in honor of the Museum’s founding curator of photography. The renovated and expanded facility on the mezzanine of the Audrey Jones Beck Building offers artists, researchers, students, and the public access to the Museum’s renowned collection of some 35,000 photographs as well as its collection of prints and drawings.

“We are enormously grateful to Joan and Stanford Alexander, whose generosity in honor of curator emerita Anne Wilkes Tucker has allowed us to create an exceptionally spacious and well-appointed study room for the close examination of photographic works of art. I know of no other that can rival it,” said Gary Tinterow, Director, the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair, MFAH.

Tucker, long dedicated to public education about photography, said, “Nothing could make me happier or be a greater honor than the naming of this beautiful study center, where I hope that generations of students, scholars, and members of the public will find the same magic and meaning in photographs that has engaged my interest and imagination for so long.”

Designed to serve multiple functions, the 3,500-square-foot public area of the Anne Wilkes Tucker Photography Study Center provides ample room for individual researchers; a 33- foot-long display wall for class viewings and exhibition planning; audio-visual equipment for small group lectures; and glass-fronted display and storage for the Manfred Heiting Book Collection of nearly 7,500 exceptional examples of photographically illustrated books. The facility, operating since 2000 as the Works on Paper Study Center, also now includes a dedicated office for fellows, interns, and volunteers working on projects related to the collections of photographs, prints, and drawings.

Although COVID-19 protocols currently limit public access, once pandemic restrictions are lifted, the Museum expects the study center to again serve more than 1,500 patrons a year, including high school, college, and graduate-level classes, providing the unparalleled opportunity for students to view masterpieces from across the history of photography without frames and at close hand.

The MFAH Photography Collection
The Museum’s photography collection comprises more than 35,000 items spanning the full history of the medium, from its invention to present day. While focused on fine-art photography, the collection acknowledges the wide embrace of the medium and the many roles it plays in modern culture, and it therefore includes exceptional examples of documentary, scientific, fashion, advertising, and vernacular photography, as well as works intended solely as art. Virtually every photographic process is represented, from daguerreotypes, albumen prints, and salt prints of the 19th century; to platinum and gumbichromate prints at the turn of the 20th century; and gelatin silver prints and all manner of color photography in the modern era. Among the collection’s great strengths are American photography, with extensive holdings of civil-rights photography, Texas photography, the Photo League, and works by Diane Arbus and Robert Frank; avant-garde European and American photography between the two World Wars; photojournalism, including deep holdings of war photography; 19th century European photography; and postwar Japanese photography. More than 4,000 photographers from around the world are represented, including important bodies of work from Argentina, Mexico, Russia, and the former Czechoslovakia. The entire photography collection may be explored at online.

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